This Archive page (which is still under construction) at present contains the available details regarding the conduct of the Durrell School of Corfu (DSC) 2001-2014, which was the predecessor of the Durrell Library of Corfu.
Due to the depredations of closure, removal, storage and temporary displacement of the DSC’s records, this Archive is necessarily incomplete. We hope to augment it at a later stage.
Durrell School of Corfu
The Durrell School of Corfu (DSC) commenced its international seminar programme in June 2002, the planning and implementation of its schedules, funding and premises having been undertaken in the previous two years.
The founder of the School, Richard Pine, intended to inaugurate a study centre which would explore the work and preoccupations of the brothers Lawrence Durrell (1912-90) and Gerald Durrell (1925-95); he chose Corfu as the location for the School for two principal reasons (in addition to its natural beauty, the largely Venetian and British heritage(s) and its cosmopolitanism): firstly, because the Durrell brothers, with their mother and siblings, had lived in Corfu in the years 1935-39, and had written about the island: Lawrence Durrell in Prospero’s Cell (1945) and Gerald Durrell in the books which became known as the Corfu Trilogy: My Family and Other Animals (1956), Birds, Beasts and Relatives (1969) and The Garden of the Gods (1978).
Secondly, because the history of Corfu exhibited many layers of influence, not least the fact that, with the other Ionian Islands, it was a British Protectorate in the period 1815-64, prior to the enosis of the islands (the Heptanese or Septinsular Republic, also known as the United States of the Ionian Islands) with the state of Greece.
The fact that many of the sites associated with the Durrell family (including three villas in the vicinity of Corfu Town, and the “White House” at Kalami) were extant, as were many other features of the island referred to in the brothers’ books, was an added attraction.
Funding was secured from several private sponsors, many of them Irish (since Pine had lived and worked in Ireland 1967-99 and had many Irish connections), and from commercial sponsorships, principally the Athens-based Hellenic Bottling Company (distributors of Coca-Cola throughout Europe and Russia). Seed money was also provided by the Costopoulos Foundation in Athens, and some scholarships were awarded by Trinity Trust (Trinity College, Dublin) in 2004. Private funding continued until 2010, when the general economic climate precluded many donors from continuing their support, and at the same time the sponsorship agreement with Hellenic Bottling reached its natural conclusion. Since 2010, the finances of the DSC have been very much restricted.
The management structure of the DSC remained basically unchanged since its foundation: an Academic Director worked closely with the Administrative Director and the Advisory Board in devising academic programmes, while the Ecology Director planned the “Gerald Durrell Week” which became a major feature of the DSC’s annual programme.*
*The “Gerald Durrell Week” continues to take place on an annual basis, under the aegis of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in Jersey, founded by Gerald Durrell. The “Gerald Durrell Week” is largely an outdoor event in the north-east of the island, and ecology-oriented seminars generally visit relevant sites of interest.
These positions were occupied as follows:
Academic Director: Richard Pine, 2002-2006, 2008-2010
Jim Potts, 2007
Anthony Hirst, 2010-13
Administrative Director: Alexina Ashcroft, 2002-14
Ecology Director: David Ashcroft, 2002-14
An Advisory Board consisted of experts in the work of both Lawrence and Gerald Durrell, living and working throughout the world (USA, Canada, Australia, UK and Ireland); they contributed ideas for the academic programmes and most of them attended the seminars on a regular basis.
The DSC also appointed a number of Honorary Patrons, who included David Bellamy, Lee Durrell (widow of Gerald Durrell), Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Harish Trivedi.
From 2002 until 2013 the DSC was housed on one floor of a mansion in the Campiello, the mediaeval centre of Corfu Town. This housed the Library (see Catalogue), and was the meeting-place for most of the seminar sessions. Economic pressure and the termination of the lease caused the DSC to vacate those premises, and in effect with the closure of the premises (and the downturn in economic affairs) the DSC found it impossible to continue.
The DSC hosted over twenty academic and quasi-academic seminars and, since 2011, organised four “Gerald Durrell Weeks”. The DSC’s basic intention was to organise three seminars per year: one dedicated to a topic associated with the work of Lawrence Durrell; one examining issues raised by Gerald Durrell; and one exploring the history and culture of the Ionian Islands. Many of them had a direct bearing on Greece and the Ionian Islands, reflecting Greece’s emergence as a new state in the 1830s, and its subsequent political, economic and social history, the development of Greek literature, the peripheral location of Corfu itself, its attraction as a tourist destination, and its current experience of rural depopulation, among many other factors.
The DSC also hosted the University of Iowa Overseas Writing Workshop.
Each seminar was moderated by an expert in the relevant field.
Seminar topics included:
- Globalisation and Nationalism
- Travel Writing
- Madness and Creativity
- Borders and Borderlands
- The Literatures of War
- ‘An Investigation of Modern Love’
- Tradition and Change in Rural Society
- The Amateur Naturalist
- Cleaning up the Mediterranean
- The Emergence of Modern Greece
- Empire and Aftermath
- The History and Culture of the Ionian Islands.
In addition, a special seminar was held in 2012 to mark the centenary of the birth of Lawrence Durrell, to coincide with the DSC’s publication of Durrell’s previously unpublished novel, Judith.
Participants came from every corner of the world (excepting Africa): North and South America, Australia, India, and every part of the European continent, including Scandinavia, Turkey and Russia. Participants came from all walks of life: academics, sociologists, journalists, historians, geographers, sexologists, novelists and poets.
Moderators of the seminars and principal speakers included: Roderick Beaton, David Bellamy, Reed Way Dasenbrock, Gerald Dawe, Lee Durrell, Terry Eagleton, Nicholas Gage, Robert Holland, Aaron Jaffe, Sean Latham, Sir Michael Llewellyn Smith, Peter Mackridge, Ian MacNiven, Mustapha Marrouchi, Maria Misra, Jan Morris, Ashis Nandy, James Nichols, Nick Papandreou, Eve Patten, Emilie Pine, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Jeremy Treglown, Harish Trivedi.
In addition, each seminar was designed to incorporate a study visit to a place relevant to the topic under discussion. These visited venues occupied by the Durrell family 1935-39; Liá, the natal village of Nicholas Gage, in mainland Epirus; the neighbouring island of Paxos; on several occasions, the archaeological site at Butrint, in nearby Albania, and on a regular basis the “White House” at Kalami where Lawrence Durrell lived with his wife Nancy for most of the period 1936-1939.
In the case of seminars oriented towards the work of Gerald Durrell, who promulgated the conservation of endangered species, the DSC introduced participants to the “Sylva” project near Corfu Town, where Sylvia Demetriades Steen has for many years bred in captivity the unique horses endangered in their native Aegean island of Skyros.
In 2008 the Directors of the DSC were instrumental in the re-naming of a garden on the Esplanade of Corfu Town, popularly known as the Bosketto, as “Bosketto Durrell”, with a commemorative plaque and bas-reliefs of the two brothers.
The DSC Library, which grew incrementally since its inception in 2002, was the single largest English-language library in Corfu. It consisted of almost 4000 volumes, ranging from books by Lawrence Durrell and Gerald Durrell and their associates; Greek history, literature and sociology; British and American literature; other literatures; biography; history; and travel.
The Library is now re-named the Durrell Library of Corfu and is housed in a private villa in the north-east of Corfu.
It contains a research facility consisting of an extensive collection of materials relating to Lawrence Durrell both in facsimile and original, including a wide range of theses, interviews, articles, reviews and personalia. (Many of these are available in the Essays and Theses page of this website.)
In 2004 the DSC inaugurated a “Friends of the Durrell Library”, open to subscribers, who attended the monthly cultural evenings (March to June and September to November) at which talks, poetry readings and filmshows were given by speakers as diverse as the writer James Chatto (a Corfu resident), Daniel Austin (who adapted My Family and Other Animals for the stage, and presented it in Corfu in 2006), writer and musicologist Nick Papandreou, and Yianni Boutari (winemaker, president of the Arcturus Bear Sanctuary and currently mayor of Thessaloniki).
The DSC also hosted a large number of book launches, including Joanna Hines’s biography of her mother, Nancy Durrell, Maria Strani-Potts’s stories The Cat of Portovecchio, Theresa Nicholas’s Corfu Sketches: a Thirty Year Journey, Eve Patten’s study of Olivia Manning, and most of its own publications (see below).
The DSC published, or was associated with the publication of, seven titles emanating from its work. These are:
– Richard Pine, Lawrence Durrell: the Mindscape (2nd edition, 2005), DSC publication: ISBN 0-9549937-0-5
– Brewster Chamberlin, A Chronology of the Life and Times of Lawrence Durrell, 2007, DSC publication: ISBN 0-9549937-1-3
– Creativity, Madness and Civilisation (proceedings of a 2005 DSC seminar, edited by Richard Pine), published 2007 by Cambridge Scholars Publishing: ISBN 1-84718-091-4
– Literatures of War (proceedings of a 2007 DSC seminar, edited by Richard Pine and Eve Patten), published 2008 by Cambridge Scholars Publishing: ISBN 978-1-84718-637-9
– Nostos: Durrell School of Corfu Proceedings 1: 2002-2005, 2008, DSC publication: ISBN 978-0-9549937-1-9
– Theodore Stephanides, Corfu Memoirs and Poems, 2011, DSC publication: ISBN 978-0-9549937-3-3
– Lawrence Durrell, Judith (edited and introduced by Richard Pine), 2012, DSC publication: ISBN 978-0-9549937-4-0
– The Ionian Islands: aspects of their history and culture (edited by Anthony Hirst and patrick Sammon), published 2014 by Cambridge Scholars Publishing: ISBN 978-1-4438-5825-0
The DSC was closely associated with faculty members from the Ionian University in Corfu, especially the departments of Music and Translation/ Foreign Languages, and with the nascent British-Greek Research Institute, based in the Ionian University. DSC speakers also participated in events organised by the British Council (Athens), and members were frequently in contact with representatives of the Anglo-Hellenic League (London).
Richard Pine is Director Emeritus of the Durrell School of Corfu, which he founded in 2002. He worked as an administrator and editor in Radio Telefís Éireann (the Irish national broadcasting service) until his early retirement in 1999, in addition to pursuing his interests in music education, theatre history and media studies. He has presented and appeared in over 100 radio and television broadcasts for Radio Telefis Éireann and the BBC. He was for many years a trustee of the Royal Irish Academy of Music (of which he is an honorary Fellow), and deputy music critic for The Irish Times. He is also an obituarist for the Guardian newspaper. His twelve books include The Diviner: the art of Brian Friel (1990, 2nd edition 1999), The Thief of Reason: Oscar Wilde and Modern Ireland (1995), and Music and Broadcasting in Ireland (2005), The Disappointed Bridge: Ireland and the Post-Colonial World (2014) and Greece Through Irish Eyes (2015). He lives in Corfu and writes a regular column on Greek affairs for The Irish Times; he was also a frequent contributor to the Anglo-Hellenic Review until it ceased publication in 2015.
Richard Pine in Corfu Town
See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Pine and http://www.amazon.co.uk/Richard-Pine