The Sunday evening ITV series The Durrells prompted me to take another look at a comic strip of My Family and Other Animals that I drew in my school days. I was so lucky to have Gerald Durrell’s account of a naturalist’s childhood in Corfu as the set book for my O-level English Literature exam.
From my drawings, it seems that the highlight of the story for me was the meeting with Theo. I would have loved to have spent a childhood in Corfu, like Gerry, and, as an adult, to be a naturalist like Theodore Stephanides would suit me down the ground too.
In my drawing of Theo’s study I’ve included books by Fabre, Darwin and Le Fanu on the shelves, plus a book on astronomy (Theo had a crater on the Moon named after him, so Gerry tells us) and a collection of Sherlock Holmes stories.
The Strawberry Pink Villa
I made some progress with my drawing during the time that I compiled the comic strip. When I started, I was working in a cheap exercise book, with pages that look like newsprint. The ballpoint pen that I used made greasy marks that showed through the paper onto the next page.
Gerald Durrell described the Strawberry Pink Villa, the family’s first house in Corfu, as being ‘small and square, standing in its tiny garden with an air of pink-faced determination’.
The Daffodil Yellow Villa
I abandoned my budget priced exercise book and continued in a better quality unlined exercise book from the Eagle Press stationers in Wakefield, drawing with the fountain pen and the blue Quink ink that I used for school work.
The Snow White Villa
By the time that I got to the section of the story where the family move in to the Snow White Villa I was starting to anticipate moving on to art college in the autumn and I started using a fine-nibbed dip pen and Indian ink.
I learnt so much from that project – and passed my English Literature exam – and I wasn’t disappointed when we finally got to visit Corfu thirty years after reading the book.