Margo’s granddaughter, Tracy Breeze, left a comment on my earlier post, Whatever Happened To Margo?, with details about Margo’s children and also about Leslie’s son Tony. I contacted Tracy and asked her if she would be OK with my posting her comment here as a main post, as I know that many readers would be very interested in it — and this way it is more visible. The original post about Margo does get a lot of traffic and I do also get emails asking for updates! Anyway, Tracy kindly agreed — and also shared these photos with me, which she has given permission to use. (Please note that the photos are all copyright to Tracy Breeze, they are watermarked accordingly.)
I hope that Margo’s book about her life working on Greek ships will be published, as I am sure it will be extremely entertaining.
Leslie’s son Tony lives in the US – he kept in contact with Margo Durrell throughout his life until she died in 2009.
Margo’s first son, Gerry Breeze lives in Bournemouth. He is highly respected in the martial arts world and was teaching karate until ill health late 2016. Gerry is living and married to his third wife Sheila Breeze. His children Tracy Breeze, Sarah Breeze, Nick Breeze, Martin Breeze, Lawrence Breeze and Laura Breeze and has many grandchildren.
Margo’s second son Nick Breeze also lives in Bournemouth and the two brothers see each other often. Nick is married to his second wife Jan Breeze and he has two sons Daniel Breeze and Christopher Breeze.
I, Tracy Breeze published my Nan, Margo Duncan (Breeze/Durrell) book which is now out of print but I’m happy to say Penguin are publishing again in 2018. She has another unpublished book about her adventures working on a Greek ships travelling the Carribbean when she was 50 which I hope to get into print.
Margo was the best grandma anyone could ever wish for and a huge influence on our lives. Her zest, passion and fun for life never allowed for a dull day, she was more than amazing and much missed.
On 7th August 1961, Gerald Durrell was the guest on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs programme.
At the end of July 1987, Gerald and his wife Lee flew out to Corfu to watch the filming of the BBC ten-part series of My Family and Other Animals.
Douglas Botting refers to the trip towards the (rather rushed) latter section of his (rather good apart from the rather rushed latter section) biography of Durrell, noting that the BBC had some problems with filming because Corfu had changed so much since Gerald’s idyllic childhood there in the 1930s.
On this trip, Gerald appears to have been so upset about the changes – something he remarked on during previous visits to Corfu (known colloquially as “Cor, Phew” in Britain in the late 1980s, if my childhood memories serve)- that he was moved to write an article about the devastating effect of tourism on the island and its wildlife for the Sunday Times newspaper, published as part of its Impressions in the Sand travel series, around July 1987.
When Bob Golding was 18, he wrote to Gerald Durrell who agreed to take him along on an animal collecting expedition to the then British Cameroons in West Africa. Golding is immortalized as “young assistant Bob” in Durrell’s book A Zoo in my Luggage.
You can read Golding’s story and see some photos from the expedition on his website here.
Bournemouth photos from ‘Whatever Happened to Margo?’
This week, the Bournemouth Echo is running an appeal by Lee Durrell, Gerald Durrell‘s widow, asking for information on Gerald’s life in Bournemouth.
Together with Gerald’s nephew (Margo’s son) Gerry Breeze, Lee is organizing an exhibition on Jersey about Gerald’s Bournemouth days. The text of the Echo story is below, plus a link to the site. Anyone with information is invited to email Echo reporter Faith Eckersall, whose email address is given at the end of the piece.
In 1984, when Gerald and Lee Durrell visited the then-USSR to film their 13-part documentary, Durrells in Russia, the words ‘Soviet Union’ and ‘wildlife’ were rarely, if ever, spoken in the same sentence (except perhaps ‘when I think of the Soviet Union, I don’t think of its wildlife’). Durrell’s visit to the USSR was groundbreaking – here was a British man who appeared on a popular Soviet TV show, V Mire Zhivotnikh (‘In the World of Animals’), but more than that, here was a British man who was already popular in Russia.
Louisa Durrell, ‘Mother’, with a chimp.
Photograph by Loomis Dean for Life, taken in Jersey in 1961.
Dean came to photograph Lawrence Durrell and his wife Claude during their visit to Gerald Durrell on Jersey in 1961.
When Gerald Durrell and his wife Lee visited the then-USSR to film Durrell in Russia, Gerald was surprised to be mobbed by fans of his books.
Durrell’s books were and still are immensely popular in Russia and other post-Soviet bloc states. Here’s a glimpse at the various editions of My Family and Other Animals.
1971 – paperback edition by Mir, Moscow.
The book is titled ‘Moya Semya i Zveri’, which translates as ‘My Family and Wild Animals’, translated by by L. Derevyankinoi.
A baby western lowland gorilla was born on Thursday at the Durrell Wildlife Trust in Jersey, the first for nine years. The baby’s mother is named Hlala Kahilli, and is keeping the baby close, so it’s not been possible to determine the newborn’s sex yet.
From the Durrell website:
This baby is the first to be born at Durrell for nine years following the introduction of new dominant silverback Badongo, who incidentally also celebrates his thirteenth birthday today. Whilst this is Badongo’s first baby, Hlala Kahilli is an experienced mother and this is her fourth baby.
Mark Brayshaw Head of Animal Collection at Durrell said, “We are delighted with the great news and so far the mother and infact are doing well, but as with all births we need to be extra cautious during the first few days. At the moment the group including the new parents are all very relaxed and our keepers are remaining as hands off as possible as the group appears quite settled.”
Western lowland gorillas are classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
In 1957, LIFE magazine despatched a photographer, Howard Sochurek, to photograph Gerald Durrell during his expedition to Bafut in the Cameroons. The expedition came not long after the publication of My Family and Other Animals in 1956, which became an instant hit – and of course the public were already aware of Durrell and his previous Cameroons adventures from his previous books, The Overloaded Ark and The Bafut Beagles.
Jacquie Durrell accompanied Gerald on this trip, as did his secretary, Sophie Cook, and a young aspiring naturalist, 18-year-old Robert Golding.
Gerald found the Cameroons had changed somewhat since his previous animal-catching expedition, and ran into difficulties with the British Administration, whom Jacquie wrote were:
“not at all pleased to have Gerry back in the country. They wagged a finger at him and tore him off a strip for writing about the Fon the way he had done in the Bafut Beagles, presenting a paramount chief as a carousing black clown who spoke comic pidgin English.”
While Gerald thought the Fon might be angry about his depiction in the Bafut Beagles, he turned out to be delighted. “You done make my name go round the world,” he said.
Here are some of the photos, from the LIFE archive, as digitalized by Google.
Gerald with the Fon