The Durrells in Corfu, from Page to Screen

Discover the books behind the hit show on PBS Masterpiece.


You can’t go wrong with sunshine, sand, and a little family dysfunction—and PBS Masterpiece's The Durrells in Corfu has them in abundance. The hit show, now gearing up for the U.S. premiere of its third season, is an adaptation of the Corfu Trilogy by British author, zookeeper, naturalist, and conservationist Gerald Durrell.

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  • Photo Credit: Still from "The Durrells in Corfu" (2017), via PBS

Beginning with My Family and Other Animals, these quintessentially British memoirs are “funny and exhilaratingly rude” as they follow the Grecian adventures of an eccentric English family (The Guardian).

Though lesser-known among Americans, the trio of memoirs is a beloved coming-of-age story for the British pre-Potter generation. Durrell tells his tale from the perspective of his 10-year-old self, enchanting readers of all ages with his vivid descriptions of misbehaving animals...Especially those of the human variety, whom he so fortunately gets to call his siblings.

Related: Family and Fireflies: Anecdotes from the Real-Life Durrell Family 

The show strays a bit from Durrells' original narrative, but that hasn’t stopped it from becoming a television hit. The first season introduced us to the recently-widowed Louisa Durrell, who leads her traveling circus of a family to the Corfu Islands in the wake of tragedy (and their subsequent pennilessness). Her untamable brood contains Larry, the eldest son who is forever grasping for literary superstardom (he does eventually achieve his writing dreams, becoming the famous author Lawrence Durrell). Larry is joined by a gun-obsessed brother, Leslie, and a boy-crazy sister named Margo. And last but not least is Gerry himself—a precocious youngster who prefers animal friends to human ones. He creates no shortage of chaos when he begins to fill the walls of their crumbling villa with a collection of exotic, four-legged creatures.

Related: Read an Excerpt from Lawrence Durrell, a Stunning Biography 

The third season will see Louisa, frustrated by the dating game, try to focus on other pursuits. But doing so while also managing her kids won't be easy—especially now that Larry is struggling with his third novel, Leslie has multiple girlfriends, Margo is feeling restless, and Gerry's obsession with the wildlife continues to grow. Luckily, Louisa's Aunt Hermione may be able to help ease the chaos...or simply stir up more drama.

Though both the series and the books explore the genesis of Gerry’s love for nature, their true charm lies in these explorations of the Durrells' complicated family relationships. Catch up on seasons one and two, and then watch the third season of The Durrell's in Corfu on September 30. But for the complete story, pick up Gerald Durrell’s beloved memoirs:

Featured still from "The Durrells in Corfu" (2018), via PBS