It was a sad day this past Friday, June 10, when we learned that Patrick Leigh Fermor had passed away at the age of ninety-six. We are extremely proud and fortunate to have published six of Leigh Fermor’s books in the NYRB Classics series, and just last year we published In Tearing Haste, a collection of correspondence between Leigh Fermor, or “Paddy” as he was known to his many friends, and Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire and the youngest of the celebrated Mitford sisters.
It was A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water that confirmed Leigh Fermor’s fame as a great writer. At the age of eighteen, he set off from the heart of London on an epic journey—to walk to Constantinople. Originally published more than forty years after his extraordinary foot journey, A Time of Gifts gives the account of his adventures as far as Hungary, while Between the Woods and the Water continues the story to the Iron Gates that divide the Carpathian and Balkan mountains.
Patrick Leigh Fermor was a war hero and an intrepid traveler. The New York Times, in its obituary, characterized his work as being filled with “sly humor, curiosity, wide-ranging social connections and sympathies, familiarity with arcane history and a dashing literary style steeped in the ancient writing of Greece and Rome.”
But he was more than a great travel writer, he was one of the twentieth century’s most remarkable writers.