Corfu: The Island of Celebrities and Inspiration

Corfu is a beautiful Greek island in the Ionian Sea, famous for its stunning beaches, lush greenery, rich history and culture. But did you know that Corfu has also attracted many celebrities and artists over the years, who have found inspiration and refuge in its enchanting landscapes and atmosphere? In this blog post, we will explore some of the famous people who have lived or visited Corfu, and some of the movies and books that were inspired by the island.

Corfu’s Notable Foreign Residents

Corfu has been a popular destination for foreign residents since the 19th century, when it was under British protection. Some of the notable figures who lived or stayed on the island include:

  • William Gladstone

    : The future prime minister of Britain spent six months on Corfu in 1858-1859, as the High Commissioner of the Ionian Islands. He was impressed by the beauty and culture of Corfu, and wrote several letters and speeches about his experiences.

  • Edward Lear

    : The famous painter and poet visited Corfu several times between 1848 and 1864, and produced many wonderful watercolors of the island’s scenery. He also wrote some of his humorous limericks and nonsense poems inspired by Corfu.

  • The Durrell Family

    : The British naturalist Gerald Durrell and his novelist brother Lawrence Durrell moved to Corfu with their family in 1935, and stayed until 1939. They both wrote several books about their life on the island, such as

    My Family and Other Animals


    The Corfu Trilogy


    Prospero’s Cell


    The Greek Islands

    . Their stories have been adapted into TV series and movies, such as

    The Durrells


    My Family and Other Animals


  • Vivien Leigh

    : The Oscar-winning actress visited Corfu in 1960, as a guest of her friends Roger Furse and Ines Furse, who had a house on the hill above Benitses. She fell in love with an abandoned villa near Gastouri, called St John of the Pigeons, and planned to buy it. However, she died shortly after returning to England.

  • Laurence Olivier

    : The legendary actor and director was married to Vivien Leigh for 20 years, and visited Corfu with her in 1960. He also came back to the island several times after their divorce, and signed his autograph on the wall of the Corfu Bar in Benitses.

  • Albert Finney

    : The acclaimed actor and his then-wife Anouk Aimee bought a property at Ipsos in the 1960s, where they spent their holidays. Finney starred in several movies filmed on Corfu, such as

    The Picasso Summer


    The Duellists


  • Lady Alexandra Metcalfe

    : The daughter of Lord Curzon, a former viceroy of India, and the widow of Dudley Metcalfe, an aide of the Duke of Windsor during his abdication crisis, lived at Kommeno for many years. She was a socialite and a philanthropist, who hosted many parties and events for her friends and guests.

  • Princess Sophia

    : The sister of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and the aunt of Queen Elizabeth II, lived at Kommeno for several years as well. She was married to Prince Christoph of Hesse, a Nazi officer who died in World War II, and later to Prince George William of Hanover.

  • Frank Giles

    : The former editor of

    The Sunday Times

    had a home near Kassiopi for many years. He wrote a memoir about his life on Corfu, called

    Greek Hours: A Journal from Corfu


  • Lord Glenconner

    : The eccentric aristocrat and friend of Princess Margaret built a house near Paleokastritsa in the 1960s, which was only accessible by boat. He later sold it to Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group.

Corfu’s Movies and Books

Corfu has also been the setting or the inspiration for many movies and books, both fiction and non-fiction. Some of the most famous ones are:

  • Fedora

    : A 1978 movie directed by Billy Wilder, starring William Holden and Marthe Keller. It is about a Hollywood producer who tries to lure a reclusive actress out of retirement, in order to revive his career. The movie was partly filmed on Corfu, where the actress lives in a secluded villa.

  • For Your Eyes Only

    : A 1981 James Bond movie directed by John Glen, starring Roger Moore and Carole Bouquet. It is based on two short stories by Ian Fleming,

    For Your Eyes Only



    . The movie features several scenes on Corfu, such as a car chase, a boat chase, a keelhauling, and a visit to the Achilleion Palace.

  • The Executioner

    : A 1970 spy thriller novel by Anthony Burgess, also known as

    The Dirty Tricks Department

    . It is about a British agent who is sent to Corfu to assassinate a Soviet defector. The novel is set during the Cold War, and depicts the political and cultural tensions of the time.

  • The Magus

    : A 1965 novel by John Fowles, which was later adapted into a 1968 movie starring Michael Caine and Anthony Quinn. It is about a young English teacher who goes to work on a Greek island, where he meets a mysterious and wealthy man who involves him in a series of psychological games and experiments.

  • The Gaze of the Gorgon

    : A 1992 poem by Tony Harrison, which was also made into a 1992 film for BBC. It is about a young soldier who visits Corfu after World War I, and discovers the connection between the myth of Medusa and the history of fascism.

  • The Ionian Mission

    : A 1981 historical novel by Patrick O’Brian, part of his Aubrey-Maturin series. It is about the naval adventures of Captain Jack Aubrey and his friend Dr Stephen Maturin during the Napoleonic Wars. The novel features several scenes on Corfu, where Aubrey commands a squadron of ships.

  • The Corfu Trilogy

    : A series of three autobiographical books by Gerald Durrell, consisting of

    My Family and Other Animals


    Birds, Beasts and Relatives

    , and

    The Garden of the Gods

    . They are about his childhood on Corfu with his eccentric family and his passion for wildlife.

  • Prospero’s Cell

    : A 1945 travel book by Lawrence Durrell, which is also considered a literary work. It is about his impressions and experiences of living on Corfu before World War II, and his reflections on the island’s history, culture and mythology.

  • The Greek Islands

    : A 1978 travel book by Lawrence Durrell, which is also a collection of essays and anecdotes. It is about his visits to various Greek islands, including Corfu, where he revisits some of the places and people he knew before.

  • My Family and Other Animals

    : A 2005 TV movie directed by Sheree Folkson, starring Eugene Simon and Imelda Staunton. It is based on Gerald Durrell’s book of the same name, and it follows his adventures on Corfu with his family and his animals.


Corfu is an island that has captivated many celebrities and artists over the years, who have found inspiration and refuge in its beauty and charm. The island has also been the setting or the inspiration for many movies and books that have showcased its culture and history. If you are looking for a place to relax, explore or create, Corfu might be the perfect destination for you.

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