The island of Corfu is known for its stunning beauty, its gorgeous beaches, and its warm hospitality. Some of its most famous residents were the Durrells, an eclectic family of British origin and a group of creatives, authors, and photographers. You may be familiar with the Durells family name from the comedy-drama TV series which aired in Britain from 2016 to 2019. It was based on Gerald Durrell’s 3 books about the family’s four years in Kalami, Corfu, where they each lived unforgettable adventures.
Who are the Durrells?
The Durrell family is made up of Louisa Durrell and the four kids – Lawrence, Leslie, Margo, and Gerald. They were all were born in India and moved to Bournemouth, England as a family when their father died.
Lawrence (Larry) Durrell
Lawrence, a novelist and screenwriter known for his book Alexandria Quartet, was the first to move to Corfu, and the rest of the family soon followed suit. He wrote 18 novels and 6 travel books based on his travel experiences, as well as humor books, poetry, essays, and screenplays. He was once nominated for a Nobel Prize.
When Lawrence Durell moved to Corfu, he was newly married and sought to find somewhere remote. He moved to the north of the island of Corfu with his wife Nancy and wrote his newest novel The Black Book (1938).
“I felt we’d been living too near the crowds,” Nancy said. “ — too tame. I was terribly keen on being in the wildest places I could find — most untamed.”
Gerald (Gerry) Durrell
On Corfu, when he arrived at 10 years old, Gerald was known for keeping local animals as pets, and he ran wild on the island. The young boy also made friends with Theodore Stephanides, a poet, doctor, and philosopher who became his mentor.
Gerald says that his love of wildlife comes from his time with Theodore, when they collected animals. He eventually worked for zoos and even started his own zoo called the Durrell Wildlife Park.
Gerald Durrell is now known as the author who wrote the bestselling Corfu Trilogy. Among the titles are: My Family and Other Animals, Birds, Beasts and Relatives, and The Garden of the Gods.
Margaret was the middle child and also developed a love for the island. While living there, she fell in love with a RAF pilot. She married him in 1940 and then fled during the war to South Africa. Margaret later moved to Bournemouth, but always considered Corfu her home.
She ran a boarding house in Bournemouth and wrote a book called “Whatever Happened to Margo?” This book retold stories about her curious guests, her love affair with a trombone player, and visits from her brother Gerry Durrell with his troupe of exotic animals.
The White House Villa
The White House is one of the most famous buildings on Corfu and part of the island’s rich cultural heritage. It is found in Kalami, Corfu.
It was the former residence of Lawrence Durrell, who lived in Corfu in the 1930s. Of the interior he wrote “the rooms look lovely and gracious with their white-washed walls, and the few bright paintings and books. The windows give directly on the sea.” Many visitors arrive here inspired by his words, because this is where the author spent some of his most creative years.
They love that little has changed about this special place.
Originally, the White House was a single-storey property owned by Anastasios Atheneos, the grandfather of the current owner, Tassos. The second floor was added for Lawrence Durrell and his wife. The ground floor is still the Atheneos family home, while the basement and traditional old fisherman’s hut are now the White House Restaurant. Rooms on the upper floor where the Durrells lived and wrote can be rented during the summer season. You can inquire about rooms here.