Kevin Andrews was born in Peking on January 20 1924. His mother, Yvette Borup, an explorer in her own right, was married to the adventurer and explorer Roy Chapman Andrews, though he may not have been Kevin's father. Yvette later told Kevin his father was Captain Harold St. Clair Smallwood, though even this may not be true. A third possible contender as father, was Perceval Landon, a lifelong friend and intimate of Rudyard Kipling.
Kevin grew up in England and America and fought in Italy in the Second World War. He won a Fulbright scholarship to Greece and spent many months travelling around the Peloponnese, still in the throes of the Greek civil war. Two books emerged from this period:
Castles of the Morea, (1953, republished 2006)
The Flight of Ikaros (1959, new edition 1984)
Ikaros is generally considered to be his masterpiece.?
Kevin’s love for Greece and its people shines through his writing and dominated his life. But there was a dark side. He had epilepsy and suffered from the harmful side-effects of the medicines he took. He was difficult to live with. In 1954 he married Nancy Cummings the daughter of the poet, E. E. Cummings. From the late fifties the couple lived in Greece in Hydra, Ikaria and Athens. Alone, Kevin visited Karpathos several times in the sixties and seventies. Between 1967 and 1974, when the military Junta ruled Greece, Kevin supported the resistance. Afterwards he renounced his American nationality and became a Greek citizen. By then he and Nancy had separated. They never divorced
Kevin drowned in disputed circumstances on September 1 1989 while swimming in rough seas off the island of Kythira.
The search for Kevin Andrews took me three years. My intention was to write a short story or two about his life. But the stories accumulated and I now have an 80,000-word manuscript. Featured names include Auden, MacNeice, Dylan Thomas, Patrick Leigh Fermor, E E Cummings, Scofield Thayer, Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany and Queen Frederika of Greece. More important are the less well-known people, mainly women, who knew Kevin and who generously gave their time and shared their memories.
Their interviews form a fascinating record and register their despair at a man who never achieved his promise.
The Kevin Andrews story deserves wide circulation.