CULTURE

A fond farewell to two staunch Philhellenes

Two staunch Philhellenes, Betty Ryan and Stella Gordon, died early this year. Both women had close connections with Greece and the literary life of a country that they loved. Betty Ryan Henry Miller immortalized Betty Ryan in his book, «The Colossus of Maroussi,» which still continues to attract visitors to the land it extols. «I would never have gone to Greece had it not been for a girl named Betty Ryan who lived in the same house with me in Paris,» wrote Miller. «One evening, over a glass of white wine, she began to talk to me of her experiences in roaming the world. I always listened to her with great attention, not only because her experiences were strange but because when she talked about her wanderings she seemed to paint them; everything she described remained in my head like finished canvases by a master… nobody has ever given me the ambience of a place so thoroughly as she did that of Greece.» Born in New York in 1914, Betty Bartlett Ryan studied painting in New York and Paris. She first visited Greece in 1934 as a student, and stayed for several months in Olympia, painting and learning Greek. She lived in Paris till 1939, where she shared an apartment block with Henry Miller. Her letters from the brilliant circle of writers and artists she mixed with there are now in the Kairis Library on Andros. A talented linguist, Ryan studied Slavic languages and literature after her return to the USA. Ryan died on January 9, 2003, in Woodstock, Vermont. Stella Gordon When Stella Gordon first visited Greece on her retirement, she promptly fell in love with the country and moved to Athens, where she spent 20 happy years. Born in Northern Ireland in 1908, she studied languages at Trinity College, Dublin, then went to England where she worked for many years as a secretary at Senate House, London University. In Greece, her connection with the world of letters came from her work typing the manuscripts of writers Greek and foreign, among them Constantine Trypanis, Kevin Andrews and Philip Sherrard. It was Gordon who typed both volumes of Patrick Leigh Fermor’s acclaimed books about his journey across Europe: «A Time of Gifts» (1977) and «Between the Woods and Water» (1986). Gordon returned to Britain at the age of 86, and died in London on February 18, 2003, aged 95. Thanks to Elizabeth Panourgias of London for providing the information for this report.