Lawrence Durrell lived in the Villa Ambron in Alexandria during the Second World War. He worked in the tower at the top of the villa where he wrote Prospero's Cell about Corfu and drafted the first pages of what would become Justine, the first volume of the Alexandria Quartet.
The Villa Ambron continues to be deliberately neglected and battered and destroyed by a developer who has already planted blocks of flats in its once vast garden. Two laws protect old villas from development so the tactic is to encourage them to fall down.
Bent Christophersen, an antiquarian book dealer familiar with Egypt and Greece, visited the villa two weeks ago and took these haunting photographs - I thank him for kindly allowing me to use them here; they remain his copyright.
Bent entered the house on the ground floor and worked his way across the wreckage towards the base of the tower.
A staircase rises up from the cellar of the villa to the upper floor. But to reach Durrell's writing room at the top of he tower required climbing an outside staircase, now gone.
Bent was able to get as far as the octagonal room immediately below Durrell's writing room.
|The octagonal room beneath Durrell's writing room at the top of the tower.|