Monday, September 23, 2013

Paddy’s broken road

John Murray has just published the final part of a trilogy by Patrick (Paddy) Leigh Fermor concerning his epic journey on foot across Europe in the mid-1930s. The first two parts, thought by some to be classics of travel literature, were written from memory 40-50 years after the journey and not published until the 1970s-1980s. Leigh Fermor died in 2011 and never completed the third part, but the new book - The Broken Road - has been compiled from early pieces of his writing, including a diary he kept during the latter stages of his walk.

Paddy was born in London in 1915, the son of a distinguished geologist then working in India, and spent the first four years of his life with a family in Northamptonshire while his mother and sister stayed with his father in India. Subsequently, he had trouble with schools, being expelled from some, and being sent to one for difficult children for a while. Nevertheless, he managed some learning, including Greek.

By the summer of 1933, still only 18, Paddy had tired of education and decided to live in London and become a writer. A few months later, though, he was off on the first of his many travels: a walk across Europe from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople. The journey lasted from December 1933 to January 1935, and thereafter he travelled around Greece, settling with a Romanian noblewoman, Balasha Cantacuzène, first near Athens then in Moldavia.

Paddy served with the Irish Guards during the Second World War, and then joined the Special Operations Executive in 1941, helping to coordinate resistance in German-occupied Crete. He led the party that in 1944 captured and evacuated a German commander. Captain Bill Stanley Moss, his second in command at the time, later wrote about the events in Ill Met by Moonlight: The Abduction of General Kreipe, which was adapted into a film by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger with Dirk Bogarde playing Paddy.

In 1950, Paddy published his first book, The Traveller’s Tree, about post-war travels in the Caribbean, and he went on to write several further books, including Mani and Roumeli, of his travels on mule and foot around remote parts of Greece. He was friendly with Lawrence Durrell, another writer on Greece (see The Diary Review - A book out of these scraps) who wrote of him in his Cyprus book, Bitter Lemons: ‘After a splendid dinner by the fire he starts singing, songs of Crete, Athens, Macedonia. When I go out to refill the ouzo bottle. . . I find the street completely filled with people listening in utter silence and darkness. Everyone seems struck dumb. “What is it?” I say, catching sight of Frangos. “Never have I heard of Englishmen singing Greek songs like this!” Their reverent amazement is touching; it is as if they want to embrace Paddy wherever he goes.’

In 1968, after many years together, Paddy married Joan Elizabeth Rayner (née Eyres Monsell), daughter of the 1st Viscount Monsell. She accompanied him on his travels (until her death 2003) and the two were based partly near Kardamyli in the southern Peloponnese and partly in Gloucestershire, England. They had no children. Paddy was knighted in 2004, and he died in 2011. Further information can be found from Wikipedia, The New Yorker, various obituaries (The Guardian, for example, The Independent, the BBC), or from reviews of a ‘magnificent’ biography by Artemis Cooper published last year by John Murray (The Telegraph, The Daily Mail).

In 1977, John Murray published Paddy’s A Time of Gifts, often considered to be a classic of travel literature. This was a memoir of the first part of his journey on foot across Europe in 1933-1934. (Much of it can be read online at Googlebooks.) Nearly a decade later, a second volume appeared, Between the Woods and the Water; and a third, covering the final part of the walk to Constantinople (Istanbul), was promised but never completed: he laboured at this third book for years but never produced a manuscript. Now, in September 2013, John Murray (part of Hodder) has brought out a third volume edited by Colin Thubron and Artemis Cooper - The Broken Road: From the Iron Gates to Mount Athos - by way of trying to complete the trilogy.

But this is a very different book to the first two since it is made up of two documents written by Paddy much earlier in his life, and not crafted by him to be the third book of the trilogy. The first, called ‘A Youthful Journey’, was inspired by a commission for a magazine on the pleasure of walking; and the second is a diary Paddy lost but, oddly, recovered in 1965.

In the book’s introduction - which can be read on the Hodder website - the editors provide a full explanation of the convoluted story behind The Broken Road, and some background on Paddy’s diaries. They also explain the genesis of the title chosen to indicate Paddy’s unfinished written journey, and the fact that the work is not the polished version he would have desired, ‘only the furthest in the end we [the editors] could go.’

‘One of the astonishing facts about A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water,’ the editors say, ‘is that they were written from memory, with no diaries or notebooks to sustain them. Paddy’s first diary was stolen in a Munich youth hostel in 1934, and those that succeeded it, along with his picaresque letters to his mother, were stored during the war in the Harrods Depository, where years later they were destroyed unclaimed. It was a loss, he used to say, that “still aches, like an old wound in wet weather”.’

However, in 1965, while researching an article on the Danube, he met up again with Balasha Cantacuzène, who he had not seen since the start of the war in 1939. She had saved his fourth and final diary, and returned it to him during this visit.

The editors continue: ‘Written in faded pencil, the Green Diary, as he called it, carries his life forward to 1935 after his walk was over, and is appended with sketches of churches, costumes, friends, vocabularies in Hungarian, Rumanian, Bulgarian and Greek, and the names and addresses of almost everyone he stayed with. But strangely, although the diary covered all his walk from the Iron Gates to Constantinople and more, he never collated it with ‘A Youthful Journey’. Perhaps its callowness jarred with the later, more studied manuscript, or their factual differences disconcerted him. The two narratives often diverge. Whatever the reason, the diary - which retained an almost talismanic significance for him - did nothing to solve his dilemma.’

Here are three partial extracts from the diary section of The Broken Road.

24 January 1935
‘I left Salonika last night; Patullo and Elphinstone came along with me to the boat, and we bought some bread, and salami and cheese by the harbour gates. I was glad they came, as it was already sunset, and it’s very lonely starting off on these journeys alone. The ship was surprisingly small; very dirty and overloaded with every kind of cargo, all of which was hauled on board in a surprisingly unworkmanlike way. The boat was a shambles inside too, with enormous banks of coal in the passages, and peasants lying in their blankets in despondent groups everywhere. We stood in the passages and smoked, and chatted, waiting for the bells to ring to announce departure, so they could get off; but the boat was nearly two hours late, and they nearly came away with me, which would have been rather serious for Patullo has to join a troopship for Hong Kong in a day or two at Port Said. [. . .]’

27 January 1935
‘I left Koutloumousiou early yesterday, and started off downhill, the road winding beside a rushing torrent, breaking over great boulders, and dashing on in a lather of white foam. The peninsula here is entirely forested with evergreens, so that it is difficult to believe it’s only January; among the ilexes and oleanders are many olives, aspens, cypresses and cedar. The higher slopes are almost entirely fir.

Coming round a corner I saw a funny little grey-haired man sitting on the edge of an old stone well, with some big brown paper parcels beside him. He wished me good day in French, and giving me a cigarette, began to tell me all about himself. He was from Kavalla, and had lived on the Holy Mountain for four years, making maps of it, and copying ikons on wood. He showed me a few of these, they were good.

The sea soon came into sight round a bend, and the large monastery of Iviron, the high walls appearing above the trees. These walls are lofty, and have the effect of being much higher than they are long, as they are divided into sort of rectangular bastions, rising sheer to quite a height without a single window, then suddenly branching out into an overhanging balcony, with undulating tiled roofs, and the plaster painted bright colours - red, blue, green, in crude designs.

Several monks were sitting on benches in the big, sunny cobbled courtyard, half asleep, stroking their beards. [. . .]’

28 January 1935
‘I left Iviron after an early lunch yesterday, the track running close along the shore, sometimes over the high rocks, sometimes over the pebbles and sand of the beach, and sometimes winding away inland, a little footpath between the trees. It was really a succession of Devonshire combes, but full of wildly growing evergreens, with now and then a squat stone hermitage standing on a ledge of the mountainside, surrounded by dark cypresses. [. . .]’

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

13 Lincoln’s Inn Field

Sir John Soane, an architect best remembered for his house in Lincoln’s Inn Field, now a famous museum, and for rebuilding the Bank of England, was born 260 years ago today. Though not known as a diarist, he did keep a notebook during the rebuilding of 13 Lincoln’s Inn Field. To celebrate the building’s 200th anniversary last year, the Soane museum scanned and transcribed the notebook so as to make it publicly available on its website.

Soane was born in Goring-on-Thames on 10 September 1753. His father, a bricklayer, died in 1768, after which he went to live with his much older brother. Aged 15, he began training as an architect under George Dance the Younger, and in 1771 he was admitted to the Royal Academy Schools. He did well there, gaining a silver medal the following year, and a gold medal in 1776 for designing a triumphal arch. He spent three years in Italy studying the ancient remains, and making original designs for public buildings. On returning to England in 1780, Soane struggled at first to find commissions to design country houses, but by the mid 1780s his services were in constant demand.

Soane married Elizabeth Smith, niece to the successful builder George Wyatt, in 1784. They had two sons that survived infancy. On the death of Wyatt in 1790, the couple inherited money and property, leading Soane to purchase 12 Lincoln’s Inn Fields. He demolished the existing house, and rebuilt it to his own design. In 1788, he won the coveted post of architect to the Bank of England, a lucrative position that kept him busy for many years, and involved rebuilding most of the existing bank and doubling its size. Between 1789 and 1994, he also designed a new prison at Norwich Castle. He was noted, generally, for an original and personal interpretation of the Neoclassical style.

Among other appointments, Soane became professor of architecture at the Royal Academy, and architect for the Office of Works. His success enabled him, over the years, to buy and rebuild 13 and 14 Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Number 13 is today the world famous Sir John Soane’s Museum. Soane was knighted in 1832, and the following year obtained an Act of Parliament through which his house became a national architecture museum. He died in 1837. Further information is available at Wikipedia, Royal Berkshire History or HistOracle.

Soane is not known as a diarist - indeed he is not listed in the extensive Annotated Bibliography of Diaries Printed in English, compiled by Christopher Handley. However, during the rebuilding of 13 Lincoln’s Inn Field - between July and October 1812 - he did keep a notebook. This is held by Sir John Soane’s Museum, and, in celebration of the building’s 200 anniversary last year (2012), it published the diary on its website. For each day, there is a scan of the original, a transcript, and a commentary. Here are some sample extracts and commentaries.

13 July 1812
‘Mr Tyndale gave up the possession of No. 13 this evening’

14 July 1812
‘Mr Tyndale compl. the removing his goods, wine etc.’

17 July 1812
‘Began pulling down’

1 August 1812
‘Completed pulling down and removing the old Mat. except a small part of the front wall and the back front wall’

28 August 1812
‘The floor was put on the floor of the Study and the walls of the Court raised several feet above the Ground floor of the House

Between the fascia over the Kitchen window and the paving of the Area are four course of stones in Height, the whole of the third and part of the fourth was completed this 29th Aug.’

Commentary: ‘Work has progressed rapidly at the back of the house. By this date the basement on the west side of the central courtyard was complete enabling the floor to be laid in the ‘Study’ (the Breakfast Room today). [. . .]’

6 October 1812
‘The two statues were brought here this morning punctually to Mr Sealy’s promise between 10 and 11 and in the course of the afternoon they were raised into their proper places and the workmen began to remove the upper part of the Scaffolding’

Commentary: ‘The two statues are the Coade Stone female figures after those on the Erechtheion in Athens, visible on the facade of No. 13. On November 6th Soane paid for them, noting in his accounts ‘Coade & Sealey £40’.’

13 October 1812.
‘The whole of the building covered in completely’

Commentary: ‘The final entry in Soane’s notebook marks the end of the project to build No.13, at least for this phase.  Soane would continue to make additions and alterations for the rest of his life, as his collection grew. [. . .]’

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

After private prayers

Margaret Hoby died all of 380 years ago today. She married three times, kept a rich household, and was a very religious person. There is nothing remarkable about her life except for the fact that she kept a diary, and that this is the oldest known extant diary - written over four centuries ago - by any English woman. Unfortunately, it is more a record of her private prayers than her private thoughts.

Margaret was born in 1571, the only child of a landed gentleman, Arthur Dakins of Linton, East Riding, and his wife Thomasine Gye. Margaret was educated at a school for young gentlewomen in a Puritan household. She married Walter Devereux, the younger son of Essex, and a court favorite of Queen Elizabeth I. The manor and parsonage of Hackness near Scarborough were purchased for the couple, and remained Margaret’s property after Devereux died at the siege of Rouen in 1591. She married Sir Thomas Sidney, but he died in 1595, and she then married Sir Thomas Posthumous Hoby, son of the translator and English ambassador to France, in 1596. They lived at Hackness, but had no children. Margaret spent much of her time tending the sick and infirm in her own community, as well as running her household. She died on 4 September 1633.

A little further biographical information about Hoby can be found at Wikipedia, in A Historical Dictionary of British Women by Cathy Hartley, or in Early Modern English Lives: Autobiography and Self-representation, 1500-1660 (several authors).

Between 1599 and 1603, Margaret kept a diary fairly regularly. According to Arthur Ponsonby, editor of More English Diaries (1927), ‘she was no doubt instructed to keep a diary for the sake of religious discipline.’ He continues: ‘Her piety is very pronounced. Not only does she go to church frequently and listen to many sermons, but she has private prayers, writes out sermons, writes notes in her Testament, sings psalms, listens to lectures and nurses the sick. [. . .] But the diary is not exclusively confined to her religious exercises. We learn much of her daily occupations. How she gathers “apples”, exercises her “body at bowles a while of which I found good”; is busy “preserving quinces” and damsons, busy in the kitchen, busy dyeing woold, “stilling”, “working some fringe”, “dressing sores”, taking “the aire in my cocsh”, out fishing or relining “a sute of blake satan for Mr. Hoby”.

Ponsonby concludes the chapter in his book on Hoby by explaining that her manuscript is in the British Museum (now the British Library), but that he was able to read a transcript with full notes in the possession of the Librarian of the House of Lords. He, Ponsonby, recommends the diary ‘should be published in full’. In fact, it was edited a few years later by Dorothy M. Meads and published as Diary of Lady Margaret Hoby 1599-1605 by George Routledge & Sons in 1930. Meads, however, can’t help but give vent to her own frustration that Hoby did not write more extensively on issues other than her religious devotions.

In her introduction Meads writes: ‘This daily record is of great value as a contemporary document, though it is not nearly so full as we would have it. The religious element is prominent, to the exclusion of much else, for the record seems to have been kept largely as a means of assisting in the religious exercise of self-examination, and only partly because it was useful in other ways. [. . .] Her daily personal record is very introspective, yet she shows no real capacity for self-knowledge or ability in self-analysis, for she sets down more or less conventional religious expressions of self-disparagement. A perusal of the contents of the diary gives one to think that she may have written with an eye on a possible reader, for we are rarely allowed a glimpse of the living woman. In spite of this barrier which she herself has raised, every detail of the record increases our acquaintance with her and our sympathy for her. She is interesting because she matters so much to herself.’

More recently, in 1998, Sutton Publishing brought out a new edition, The Private Life of an Elizabethan Lady: The Diary of Lady Margaret Hoby, 1599-1605 by Joanna Moody. The following extracts, though, come from Meads’ edition, which includes over 600 annotations (for 150 pages of diary text). In one of these notes - linked to the first extract below -  Meads cannot help but repeat the frustrations voiced in her introduction: ‘If only Lady Hoby had committed more of her feelings, impressions, and offences to paper, her diary would have increased greatly in interest’.

18 July 1600
‘After priuatt praers I went about the house and deliuered some directions to Iurden: after, I talked with my Cosine Isons and about his goinge to yorke, and then I went to diner: after, I was busie pouidinge some thinge to be carried to York: afte, I wrought and, lastly, I went to priuate examenation and praier: after, I went to supper, then I walked abroad: after, I Came in to publeck praers and, after, to priuate, wher I pleased the lord to touch my hart with such sorrow, for some offence Cometted, that I hope the lord, for his sonne sake, hath pardoned it accordinge to his promise, which is ever Iust: after, I reed apaper that wrought farther humiliation in me, I thanke god.’

17 October 1600
‘from thence I tooke my Iurnie to London wher, in the way, I was tould that order was giuen to fetch all the stuffe from york, and and to giue ouer house ther, vpon which and about we had laied forth 18li, which newes did much touch me, so that I procured Contrarie directions forth with: after I Came to london I praied, and was viseted with all my Cosines Cookes: then I praied after supper and went to bed, wher I was more meanly lodged, with so great Cost, then to my remembrance I was euer in my Life: and yet I was Glad of my brothers house’ [Meads believes this house was in The Strand or nearby].

5 May 1601
‘After praers I went to the church, wher I hard a sermon: after, I Came home and hard Mr Rhodes read: after diner I went abroad, and when I was come home I dressed some sore: after, I went to see a calfe at Munckmans, which had: 2: great heades, 4 eares, and had to ether head a throte pipe besides: the heades had long heares like brisels about the mouths, such as n’other Cowe hath: the hinder legges had no parting from the rumpe, but grewe backward, and were no longer but from the first Ioynte: also the backe bone was parted about the midest bicke, and a rowne howle was in the midest into the bodie of the Calfe: but one would haue thought that haue comed of strocke it might gett in the Cowes bely: after this I Came in to priuat medetation and praier.’

13 May 1603
‘his Majestie remoued from the Tower to Grennige’ [Greenwich]

7 June 1603
‘this day Mr Hoby and my selfe remoued from London in kent, to Mr Bettnames house, wher, I praise god, I had my health very well’ [those not with a need to remain at court had been ordered to leave London because of the plague, Meads explains, because James was alarmed at the multitudes besieging the court]

20 June 1603
‘this day we removed from thence towards Yorkshere, and the first night lay at Barnett’

21 June 1603
‘this day we lay at Noth hamton’

22 June 1603
‘at Ashbye, wher I kissed the Queens hand’

23 June 1603
‘we lay at Notingame’

24 June 1603
‘we lay at Dankester’

25 June 1600
‘at Yorke, wher we staied all the Lordes day’

27 June 1603
‘we lay at Linton wt my Cosine Dakins’

28 June 1603
‘we Came safe, I praise god, to Hacknis’

27 September 1603
‘thes day we hard from Hacknes that all there was well, But that the sicknes was freared to be at Roben Hood bay, not farr off: I Continewe my accostomed exercises but my increasinges in goodes waies is not as I thirst for’

The Diary Junction