Bitter Lemons is the famous author Lawrence Durrell’s classic work and literary breakthrough from 1957. The autobiography offers historical flashbacks from the years when he lived in Bellapais in Cyprus. It tells about his personal experiences on the island, with both humour and seriousness, the people he got to know but also on developments surrounding the movement “Enosis”, Greek Cypriots desire for unification with Greece and the freedom from British rule.
Lawrens Durrell was born in India in 1912 by British parents. He was the oldest in a family of four children, and his father worked as an engineer for the Indian Railways. Lawrence lived only short periods in England. He constantly longed to warmer climes, and throughout his life he managed to stay in several locations around the Mediterranean, including the Greek island of Corfu – which was depicted in last year’s hit series “Easy trip to Corfu” – which was broadcasted on national television.
Lawrence Durrell loved writing and dreamed of becoming a writer. But it was not only Lawrence who could write in the family, he also encouraged his younger brother and naturalist Gerald Durrell to write, and in 1956 he published the book “My Family And Other Animals”, a literary work that many Britons know of.
Lawrence’s life was defined, like so many other writers, of booze and women and he lived a bit like a bohemian. He married for the first time at age of 20 in Paris and shortly after he had a daughter. In 1953, when he was 41 years old, he came to settle in Cyprus.
At that time there lived many Greek Cypriots in Kyrenia, and he was warmly welcomed when he spoke the language fluently and furthermore adapted well to how people lived. He got a job as an English teacher and came to buy a house in Bellapais for only £300 (the house can be visited). In 1955, when the conflict between the British and Cypriot EOKA guerrilla organisation broke out, and about 500 Britons, Greeks and Turks were killed, Lawrence worked for the British government. The Greek people suddenly turned their back on him, and it became increasingly dangerous and uncertain for him to remain on the island. In 1956, Lawrence hurriedly left Bellapais and his house, never to return.
He wrote Bitter Lemons in 1957 as a bitter aftertaste on his experience in Kyrenia and Bellapais, hence the title of the book. Bitter Lemons can be found in most bookstores and is available online.
Lawrence Durrell died in 1990 at his home in southern France.
The current owner of the house where Lawrence Durrell used to live, goes there every year in September to open up the house for those interested in learning more about Lawrence Durrell’s life. Opening hours are usually Monday to Saturday between 11.30 and 13.00, Sundays 16.00 to 17.30. It is 20 TL for a guided tour of the house.
The other months of the year it is also possible to rent the house. Visit www.gandscare.com for more information.