Skip to main content

Fermor, Patrick Michael Leigh, Sir, knight (travel writer and soldier)



  • Existence: 1915 - 2011


Patrick “Paddy” Leigh Fermor was born and educated in England. Between 1933 and 1935 he travelled, largely on foot, from Rotterdam to Istanbul, then onwards to Mount Athos in Greece. Much later in life, he wrote two of his most celebrated books, ‘A Time of Gifts’ (1977) and ‘Between the Woods and the Water’ (1986), about part of this journey. A third posthumous volume, ‘The Broken Road’ (2013), edited by Colin Thubron and Artemis Cooper, was based on ‘The Green Diary’ (his only surviving diary from the journey) and a draft from the 1960s entitled ‘A Youthful Journey’.

He met the Romanian princess Balasha Cantacuzène in Athens in 1935, and the two lived together at Lemonodassos, Greece, and then at the Cantacuzène estate in Băleni, Romania, until the outbreak of war in 1939.

Working as a Special Operations Executive officer behind enemy lines in Crete during World War II, he led the party that kidnapped the German General Heinrich Kreipe. The story of the abduction was later adapted into a film, ‘Ill Met by Moonlight’ (1957), based on the 1950 book of the same name by Leigh Fermor’s second in command, William Stanley Moss. Leigh Fermor’s account of events was published posthumously as ‘Abducting a General’ (2014).

After the war, he travelled with, among others, his future wife, the talented photographer Joan Rayner, née Eyres Monsell, whom he had met in Cairo. In the 1950s and 60s his reputation as a gifted writer grew through his articles and books, particularly “The Traveller’s Tree” (1950), which describes a journey through the Caribbean, and ‘Mani’ (1958) and ‘Roumeli’ (1966), about his travels in remote areas of Greece.

In 1963 he and Joan, with help from friends and locals, built a house near the village of Kardamyli on the coast of the Mani peninsula in Greece where, in between various travels, they lived for the rest of their lives. Leigh Fermor received a number of awards, both literary and military, and was knighted in 2004.

Found in 14 Collections and/or Records:

Annotated photocopied typescript of Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor’s corrected volume III

Identifier: Acc.13610
Scope and Contents

Annotated photocopied typescript of Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor’s corrected volume III, blue, green and pink folders: “Bulgaria- written out cross reference with green diary, Ada Kaleh to Trnovo (Bulgaria I)”, “Bucharest to the cave on the Black Sea, III,” not dated. Ring binder, paginated pp.68-420

Dates: Undated

Archive of John Murray VI and authors associated with him.

Identifier: Acc.14349
Content Description This archival collection completes the larger John Murray Archive, which charts the history of one of Britain’s oldest family-run publishing firms, established in Fleet Street in 1768 by Edinburgh-born John (Mc)Murray I (1737-1795), and managed by six successive generations of his descendants, until its sale in 2002. Like his predecessors, John Murray VI (John Arnaud Robin Grey Murray, known affectionately as ‘Jock’, 1909-1993) cultivated and championed a diverse circle of...
Dates: [?1915-?2016.]

Further literary papers of Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor.

Identifier: Acc.13611
Scope and Contents

Papers and drafts relating to proposed publication of collected minor writings of Patrick Leigh Fermor, including; Peru in 1971, Spain in 1975, Pyrenees in 1978, Hellespont in 1984 and Albania in 2007

Dates: 1971-2001.

Letters of Patrick and of Joan Leigh Fermor to Bent Juel-Jensen.

Identifier: Acc.13973
Scope and Contents

One letter and two postcards of Patrick Leigh Fermor, 1991-1998, and two letters of Joan Leigh Fermor, undated- 1994.

Dates: 1991 - 1998

Letters of Patrick Leigh Fermor to Lyndall Birch.

Identifier: Acc.13664
Scope and Contents

20 letters and postcards of Sir Patrick Michael Leigh Fermor 1958-1960, 1977, 1982, 1988 and 2003, with 2 letters of Joan Leigh Fermor, 1976 and 1988.

Dates: 1958-1960, 1976-1977, 1982, 1988 and 2003.

Letters of Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor to Eva Békássy v. Gescher

Identifier: Acc.13623
Scope and Contents

30 letters and postcards of Sir Patrick (Paddy) Leigh Fermor (1915-2011), travel writer, to Eva Békássy v. Gescher (1898-1997), 1979-1980, 1982-1986, 1988-1989, 1991-1993 and 1995—1997, with one letter of Eva to Paddy, 1988 and one photocopied letter of Anne Olivier Bell to Paddy, 1980

Dates: 1979-1997

Letters of Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor to Michael and Joey Casey

Identifier: Acc.13609
Scope and Contents

4 letters of Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor to Michael and Joey Casey, 2004-5 and not dated

Dates: 2004-2005

Papers concerning the re-issue of "A Time of Gifts" and "Between the Woods and the Water", by Patrick Leigh Fermor, as part of the John Murray Travel Classics series., 1991; 2001-2002

Identifier: Acc.13328/1716
Scope and Contents

File contains photocopies of a production costs list; a copy of an advertisement for the Travel Classics series; a copy of the original early publishing contract for "A Time of Gifts", alongside a copy letter from Jock Murray VI to Leigh Fermor, and other editorial and royalty memoranda and papers. No records for "Between the Woods and the Water" are present despite being named.

Dates: Majority of material found within 1991; 2001-2002

Personal and literary papers and correspondence of Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor, with some personal papers and correspondence of Joan Leigh Fermor.

Identifier: Acc.13338/1-687
Scope and Contents The archive consists of extensive correspondence from fans, friends and associates, including the poet Sir John Betjeman, painter Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, and Leigh Fermor's principal publisher John 'Jock' Murray. There are also literary manuscripts and typescripts, often with numerous annotations and revisions, diaries, notebooks, photographs, articles and research papers concerning most aspects of his and Joan's life, work and interests, including wide-ranging material on the war, in...
Dates: 1818-2011, undated.

Photocopy of a letter, 1983, of Patrick Leigh Fermor, to Robin McDouall, Secretary of the Travellers Club.

Identifier: Acc.13999
Scope and Contents

Sent as a Christmas letter, probably to multiple correspondents. Contains a translation from German into English of 'The Heart of Douglas' by Moritz von Strachwitz. The translation was intended for an Oxford University Press book of German verse. With original envelope.

Dates: 1983

Two printout drafts of a translation by Robyn Marsack of "L'Usage du Monde" by Nicolas Bouvier; with draft of foreword by Patrick Leigh Fermor.

Identifier: Acc.13800/1-3
Scope and Contents

Two printout drafts of Robyn Marsack's translation of 'L'Usage du Monde' by Nicolas Bouvier (1963), published as 'The Way of the World' (1992). One draft is corrected and annotated by Patrick Leigh Fermor; with related letters and foreword drafts of Patrick Leigh Fermor.

Dates: ?1992.