Patrick Leigh Fermor’s enviably colorful life took off when in 1934, at the age of eighteen, he decided to walk across Europe. In just over a year he had trekked through nine countries and taught himself three languages, and his enthusiasm and curiosity for every kind of experience made him equally happy in caves or country houses, among shepherds or countesses.
At the outbreak of war he left his lover, Princess Balasha Cantacuzene, in Romania and returned to England to enlist. Commissioned into the Intelligence Corps, he became one of the handful of Allied officers supporting the Cretan resistance to the German occupation. In 1944 he commanded the Anglo-Cretan team that abducted General Heinrich Kreipe and spirited him away to Egypt.
A journey to the Caribbean, stays in monasteries, and explorations all over Greece provided the subjects for his first books. It was not until he and his wife had moved to southern Greece that he returned to his earliest walk. In these books, which took many years to write, he created a vision of a prewar Europe, which in its beauty and abundance has never been equaled.
Artemis Cooper has drawn on years of interviews and conversations with Leigh Fermor and his closest friends, and has had complete access to his archive. Her beautifully crafted biography portrays a man of extraordinary gifts—no one wore their learning so playfully nor inspired such passionate friendship.
Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure includes 16 pages of photographs.
One of The Independent’s “50 Best Winter Reads”
Short-listed for the inaugural Waterstones “Book of the Year”
Patrick Leigh Fermor, who died last year  at the age of 96, was one of the travel-writing greats, a war hero who related his journeys as a young man through Europe in classics such as A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water. Artemis Cooper draws on years of interviews with the author and his friends in this much-anticipated biography.
He lived an inspirationally heterodox life that combined adventure and reflection in unique measure. His story has hitherto been known only in parts, and mostly through the refractive prism of his own telling. At last his biography has been detailed in full, in Artemis Cooper’s tender and excellent book. Reading it is an odd experience: there is the melancholy of having one’s hero humanised, joined with renewed astonishment at the miracle he made of himself.
Artemis Cooper’s funny, wise, learned but totally candid biography reveals Leigh Fermor to be an adventurer through and through. The artifice of effortless gentility is blown away and Paddy is revealed as a much more interesting character, a fascinatingly self-made and self-educated man. He is also placed in the pantheon of literary liggers, a consummate lifelong freeloader, a prince among sponge-artists, which he paid for with his unique energy, talent and enthusiasm for song, dance, talk, memorised verse, drink and other men’s wives.
A captivating biography…. It is not easy writing a biography of someone who has poured so much of his own life into his books, but Artemis Cooper has done a brilliant job. The story rips along, as Leigh Fermor’s life did, with friends and lovers, books and journeys and parties, all milling and jostling around him in a noisy and joyous throng. And in the quieter moments we are left with something far more enduring: a man for whom the world was endlessly fascinating, and who found that he could recreate for his readers with carefully crafted words the same wonder that it gave him.
—Philip Marsden, The Daily Mail
It is not easy to convey the flavour of a man whose fame to a large extent rests on his ebullient personality and conversation but Ms Cooper succeeds admirably in this readable and entertaining book.
Artemis Cooper’s fine biography gives colour and substance to the adventure, and a delicate, sympathetic portrait of the man who made it his life.
A perceptive, haunting and highly readable biography.
—Philip Mansel, The Spectator
Leigh Fermor was funny, learned, sexy, irrepressible, flawed yet much loved, remarkable and, at times, brilliant —not unlike this book.
—Anthony Sattin, The Guardian
Cooper’s book is the perfect memorial to this remarkable man.
—William Dalrymple, Financial Times
Patrick Leigh Fermor walked from Holland to Constantinople in the 1930s, swam the Hellespont, captured a German general, wandered the Caribbean, befriended everyone of consequence and wit, and wrote about it all in some of the most elegant, sinuous prose of the century. His friend Artemis Cooper has written the biography his singular life richly deserves.
—The Daily Beast
Happy the hero who, after a lifetime of glorious achievement, in death finds a biographer worthy of his memory. Patrick Leigh Fermor…has been so widely celebrated in print, in film and in legend that the task of writing another 400 pages about him would seem, as he might himself say, Sisyphean. Artemis Cooper, however, rolls the immense boulder with an apparently effortless grace, and makes this marvellous book less a mere life story than an evocation…. He is justly commemorated in this magnificent biography, and will surely be remembered for ever as one of the very best of men.
—Jan Morris, The Telegraph