Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Durrell, Françoise Kestsman and Durrell, Lawrence
Françoise Kestsman Durrell Collection of Lawrence Durrell Materials
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
3 boxes
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Boxes B-001181 to B-001183
French English


Consists primarily of Françoise Kestsman Durrell's collection of manuscripts, many of them unpublished, by British author Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990).

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

This collection primarily consists of manuscripts, specifically corrected typescripts, by British author and philhellene Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990). Many of the manuscripts, written during the final decades of Durrell's life, are unpublished. Also included is an autograph scrapbook entitled, "Diary and Rough Notes 1955," documenting his time living in Cyprus; it contains manuscript notes, photographs of his family, stamps, and other ephemera. There is also a copy of Otto Rank's Art and Artist with a lengthy inscription by Anaïs Nin to Lawrence Durrell on the front endpaper, dated Paris February 27, 1938, and scattered marginal annotations and underlining throughout.

Papers related to Françoise Kestsman Durrell include some correspondence, specifically letters received at the time of Lawrence Durrell's death, and a galley proof of her publication, Too Far to Hear the Singing: Poems by Lawrence Durrell (2005).

Though most materials are in English, some are written in French.

Collection Creator Biography:

Durrell, Françoise Kestsman

Françoise Kestsman Durrell, an author and translator of works by Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990), was the British author's final companion and literary executor. Born in France to Polish Jewish parents, she moved to Sommières and became the owner of a small restaurant. (Her business partner ended up absconding with the funds at a time when she was still supporting her five children.) Kestsman Durrell became acquainted with Lawrence Durrell through her friendship with his daughter, Sappho, and through her position as a restaurant proprietor. The two became very close during the last ten or so years of Durrell's life; and she played a significant role in the administration of his work.

After Durrell's death, Kestsman Durrell became affiliated with the International Lawrence Durrell Society, and in 1991, following the late author's wishes, facilitated in the creation of the Centre d'Etudes et Recherches Lawrence Durrell in Sommières in his home, La Maison de Mme Tartes. For the Centre's collection, Kestsman Durrell painstakingly collected copies of Durrell's rare early books and journal publications to replace those that he had given away, lost, or sold to Southern Illinois University. Her daughter, Nadia, Mary Byrne, and others helped Kestsman Durrell catalog the manuscripts and correspondence files still in the house at the time of Durrell's death. Due to a lack of funding, the research center closed and the house was sold in 1995. Most of its collection, including Durrell's books, papers, and manuscripts, were sold to the University of Paris X at Nanterre.

Kestsman Durrell published two works based on the writings and poems of Lawrence Durrell. Éditions Gallimard published her translation of Caesar's Vast Ghost as L'ombre infinie de César. Regards sur la Provence in 1994. In 2006, she published Too Far to Hear the Singing: Poems by Lawrence Durrell . She also authored a foreward to introduce the nine poems by Lawrence Durrell that she selected for inclusion in Anthony Astbury's The Tenth Muse, an anthology of poems by various British writers.


Lawrence George Durrell was an expatriate British novelist, poet, dramatist, and travel writer, most well-known for his cycle of novels, The Alexandria Quartet. Born in 1912 in Jullundur in northern India, near Tibet, Durrell lived in various places throughout a majority his life, most notably countries in and around the Mediterranean. A philhellene, Durrell spent years living on Cyprus and Corfu. He also held a number of jobs, including several diplomatic and government positions. In 1965, he finally settled in La Maison de Mme Tartes in Sommières, France, where he lived until his death in 1990. Durrell married four times. His final companion, Françoise Kestsman Durrell, whom he did not marry, became his literary executor. His final work, Caesar's Vast Ghost, published in 1990, was dedicated to her.

Collection History


Purchase, 2017 (AM 2018-63).

Acquired with matching funds provided by the Program in Hellenic Studies, with support of the Stanley J. Seeger Hellenic Fund.

Custodial History

Françoise Kestsman Durrell appears to have lent some items in this collection to the Centre d'Etudes et Recherches Lawrence Durrell in Sommières; they are stamped accordingly.


No materials were removed from the collection during 2018 processing beyond routine appraisal practices.

Processing Information

Lawrence Durrell's passports were treated for possible mold damage during 2018 processing.

This collection was processed by Faith Charlton in February 2018 with assistance from Julia English '19. Finding aid written by Faith Charlton in February 2018. Folder inventory added by Julia English '19 and Matthew Oakland '20.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Françoise Kestsman Durrell Collection of Lawrence Durrell Materials; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Boxes B-001181 to B-001183