"Tourists don’t know where they’ve been; travelers don’t know where they’re going.”

Paul Theroux
 

 

Patrick Leigh Fermor 2004

Author Patrick Leigh Fermor has been awarded the British Guild of Travel Writers' (BGTW) highest honour in recognition of his 60-year writing career. The award was announced at the BGTW's annual gala dinner held on Sunday night at the Savoy Hotel, London.

Book jacket with portrait of the authorPatrick, 89, divides his time between Greece and Worcestershire and his biographer, Artemis Cooper, accepted the award on his behalf from BGTW Chairman, Melissa Shales.

In 1933, when he was just 18, Patrick walked from Rotterdam to Constantinople, through Germany, Turkey and Greece. His epic journey inspired his books, A Time of Gifts and Between the Wood and the Water, two classics of modern travel writing. His exploits in Crete with the SOE during WWII were the basis for the famous Dirk Bogarde film, Ill Met by Moonlight.

Over the years he has taken readers from Germany to the Caribbean, austere Benedictine monasteries and the high peaks of the Pyrenees and Andes. His 1958 book, Mani, explored the remote southern tip of Greece, then a place where foreign visitors were curiosities to be gawped at by the locals. He fell in love with the region and built a home in an olive grove.

Patrick, who continues to write, said: "Travel writing is like interpreting an ancient and dusty mosaic. Only by gently pouring on water, bit by bit, does the real pattern emerge."

Commenting on his Lifetime Achievement Award, Melissa Shales said: "Patrick Leigh Fermor's rich, flowing style, soaring imagination and wonderful journeys have inspired generations of younger travel writers. It is truly an honour to present him with this award."

Speaking from his home in Greece Patrick said: "I am so sorry not to be with you to say how very moved and honoured I am by the choice of the British Guild of Travel Writers. I am very grateful for this splendidly encouraging pat on the back. I feel spurred on to do better. Meanwhile, as I am in my studio just above the sea, I plan to dash down the steps, dive in and swim towards the noonday sun revelling in this moment of glory."

In 2004, Patrick Leigh Fermor was awarded a KBE and in 2007 was made a Commander of the Order of the Phoenix by the Greek Government.

 

 
Rachel Hamada

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I am managing editor of Mambo magazine, Zanzibar culture, life and travel online. We have been bringing the best of the archipelago to readers since 2010, and are now looking at setting up a more arts, culture and innovation-focussed publication for the wider East Africa region (covering Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Malawi). We will connect the community of ideas across the region, deliver inspiring and exciting content and curation, and we will also offer a platform...
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"My first sight of Manaus was in darkness. Naked bulbs illuminated vignettes of local life: men fixing fishing nets whose recent catch was dangling from hooks beside simmering pans illuminated by oil lamps in roadside stalls. It was a scene barely touched by the 20th century, never mind the 21st. Like a beckoning beacon, the lights of the ship dominated this scene straight out of the pages of a Joseph Conrad novel: remote, secretive, unknowable, a barrio pressed against a dark interior."

© Gary Buchanan, Amazing Amazon, World of Cruising, Summer 2008

 

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