Harry Mount

Instead of a Book

More Dashing: Further Letters of Patrick Leigh Fermor


Bloomsbury 460pp £30 order from our bookshop

Patrick Leigh Fermor had the most famous case of writer’s block of the last century. Before he died, aged ninety-six, in 2011, he spent years in agony, trying to finish the third volume about his ‘Great Trudge’ across Europe in the early 1930s. He never did finish it. In the end, the last volume, The Broken Road, was published two years after his death.

But he had no writer’s block when it came to letters: this is the third volume of his correspondence, after the success of Dashing for the Post (2016) and a 2008 selection of letters between himself and Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire. And it is by no means a barrel-scraping effort. It’s clear that, while the incomplete manuscript lay staring at him accusingly on his desk in his achingly lovely home in Kardamyli, Greece, he could write dozens of long, well-thought-out letters at will. You can see the ease of writing in the letters here: breezy, funny and light, a pleasant contrast to the marvellous but heavy, sometimes overwrought prose of his books.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Englishmen Abroad in the Reign of Henry VIII'. Free lecture by Dr Susan Brigden, Thurs 18 Oct, 6.30pm Europe Hou… ,
    • It 'contains twists and near misses and bit-part players, everything you might expect from a true-crime story'. Ian… ,
    • Oh normally a week or two before the ceremony itself - so mid-November. ,
    • Ian Sansom reviews The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World by… ,
    • 'It is hard to think of an economist who could craft such an elegantly readable account of postwar failure as this.… ,
    • Frederick Forsyth reviews The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War by ,
    • . reviews What We Have Lost: The Dismantling of Great Britain by James Hamilton-Paterson ,