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Corfu’s Notable Foreign Residents and Celebrities

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Last updated on November 19th, 2023 at 07:15 am

Corfu’s notable foreign residents from the 60s to today

Corfu has indeed captured the attention of numerous celebrities and notable figures over the years, drawn in by its natural beauty, historical significance, and alluring lifestyle.

Many of these figures opted for brief visits, immersing themselves in the island’s charms for a few days.

Moreover, a handful of them even became property owners on the island. While the list provided may not encompass every individual, here are some notable names who have either visited or made a stay in Corfu in the past:

William Gladstone

William Gladstone
William Gladstone

During the British Protectorate (1815-1864) there were a number of notable residents of Corfu, not least the future prime minister William Gladstone, and the landscape artist and humourist Edward Lear, who produced wonderful watercolors of Corfu in those days.

Gerald Durrell

Gerald Durrell
Gerald Durrell

In more modern times the Durrell family, particularly Gerald Durrell, the naturalist, and his older brother Lawrence Durrell (the novelist), brought Corfu’s delights to a wider audience by their books and can be said to have been the first tourists.

Celebrities of the 1960s

Roger Furse-Ines Furse-Vivien Leigh-Juli Damaskinos
Roger Furse-Ines Furse-Vivien Leigh-Juli Damaskinos

Corfu has indeed captured the attention of numerous celebrities and notable figures over the years, drawn in by its natural beauty, historical significance, and alluring lifestyle.

Many of these figures opted for brief visits, immersing themselves in the island’s charms for a few days. Moreover, a handful of them even became property owners on the island.

Also, It’s widely recognized that Corfu holds a special preference among the members of Europe’s royal families, surpassing other islands in popularity.

While the list provided may not encompass every individual, here are some notable names who have either visited or made a stay in Corfu in the past:

  1. Prince Philip (Duke of Edinburgh): Prince Philip was born in Corfu in 1921 as a member of the Greek and Danish royal families. His birthplace, the Mon Repos palace, is a well-known landmark on the island.
  2. Lawrence Durrell: The British novelist and poet Lawrence Durrell lived in Corfu during the 1930s. He wrote the popular “Corfu Trilogy,” which includes “My Family and Other Animals,” based on his experiences on the island.
  3. Gerald Durrell: The younger brother of Lawrence Durrell, Gerald Durrell, was a naturalist, zookeeper, and conservationist. He spent his formative years on Corfu, as described in his book “My Family and Other Animals.”
  4. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis: The former First Lady of the United States and her children visited Corfu in the 1960s.
  5. Tom Hanks: The American actor and his wife, Rita Wilson, have been known to vacation in Greece, and Corfu could be among their destinations.
  6. The Rothschild Family: Members of the wealthy Rothschild family have been associated with Corfu and have owned properties on the island.
  7. Aristotelis Onassis: The Greek shipping magnate, who was known for his relationships with prominent women like Maria Callas and Jacqueline Kennedy, had connections to the Greek islands, including Corfu.
  8. Edward Lear: The English artist, writer, and poet visited Corfu and created a series of drawings and watercolors depicting the island’s landscapes.
  9. Kaiser Wilhelm II: The former German Emperor and King of Prussia spent time in Corfu during his exile after World War I.
  10. Various European Royalty: Corfu has historically been a favored destination for European royals, including members of the British, Greek, and other European royal families.

Many other notable individuals have visited or had connections to Corfu over the years. The island’s beauty, history, and charm have attracted a diverse range of personalities from different walks of life.

Lady Alexandra Metcalfe, whose late husband had been the Duke of Windsor’s aide at the time of the abdication, and whose father was a notable viceroy of India, Lord Curzon, lived at Kommeno for many years, and also there was Princess Sophia, sister of the Duke of Edinburgh.

Further north the former editor of The Sunday Times, Frank Giles had his home, whilst on the west coast, just south of Paleokastritsa, was the house built by Lord Glenconner, for many years only accessible by water.

Actors and Singers

By the 1960s Corfu’s charms were becoming well known, and the stage and screen designer Roger Furse and his wife built a home on the hill above Benitses.

They were shortly joined by the actor and writer Emlyn Williams, and the publisher Hamish Hamilton.

One Christmas Vivien Leigh came to stay and was enchanted by the abandoned villa of St John of the Pigeons, south of Benitses. She planned to buy it but sadly died shortly after her return from the island.

Her former husband Laurence Olivier visited regularly, and for many years the Corfu Bar had a panel on the wall containing their autographs.

Another actor, Albert Finney, and his then-wife Anouk Aimee bought a property at Ipsos, whilst actor Peter Bull‘s small home perched on a cliff in Paxos, just outside Lakka.

Don’t forget about the famous actors and singers who made their way to the island, including John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, The Moody Blues, Robert Stigwood, Cat Stevens, Ava Gardner, Warren Beatty, Paul Newman, Doris Day, Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn, and many more.

It’s interesting to note that this magnetic attraction to Corfu was predominantly a phenomenon of the 20th century, and with the rise of mass tourism, it’s apparent that its appeal has started to wane.

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