The Byron Journal

'I Like the Albanians Much': Byron and Three Twentieth-Century British Travellers to Albania

The Byron Journal (2010), 38, (1), 39–48.

Abstract

The most unusual part of Byron's European travels in 1809–10 was probably his visit to Albania, where he roughed it for a bit and then lived and travelled luxuriously as the guest of Ali Pasha. He wrote about his Albanian travels in his letters and more famously in Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, whose few stanzas on Albania along with their elaborate footnotes have had an extraordinary fall-out. Historians, travellers and at least one army officer have used Byron's letters, poems and footnotes to understand the land and its people. Though Byron made Albania seem Romantic, remote, wild and exciting, few followed him into Albania. Those who did, however, tended to write about it with a verve reminiscent of Byron. This essay is about three Byron-inflected British travellers of the earlier twentieth century, Peter Quennell (1905–93), who visited Albania in the 1920s, Patrick Leigh Fermor (1915–), who walked through the Balkans in the 1930s, and the mountaineer Harold W. Tilman (1898–1977), who volunteered for duty in Albania during World War II because it was reputed to be a mountainous country.

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Author details

Bhattacharji, Shobhana