1. Tom Hanks
“I feel 110 percent Greek,” Tom Hanks had said more than a decade ago. His constant support for Greeks have earned him a cult following in Greece. And last year he became an honorary Greek citizen with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos promoting him from Philhellene to Hellene. His love of Greece after he fell in love with his Greek-American wife Rita Wilson.
2. Patrick Fermor
Sir Patrick Michael Leigh Fermor, also known as Paddy Fermor, was a British author, scholar, soldier and polyglot who played a prominent role behind the lines in the Cretan resistance during the Second World War. Widely regarded as Britain’s greatest living travel writer during his lifetime, a BBC journalist once described him as “a cross between Indiana Jones, James Bond and Graham Greene.” One of the 20th century’s greatest travel writers, life was an adventure, and he landed on Crete after enlisting in the British army and lived on the island as a secret agent, describing himself as a shepherd known as Kyr Michalis, who worked with locals to kidnap a German general.
3. Leonard Cohen
The great singer/songwriter who died more than three years ago has many Greek fans as his second home was on the island of Hydra. He bought the house there in 1960 and visited regularly for the rest of his life. In this sun-drenched paradise, he composed many of his lyrics. Hydra was also the place where love blossomed for the singer when he met Norwegian woman Marianne Ihlen, his muse in the 1960s. In his masterpiece, “So Long, Marianne”, the video features a cat, a donkey, a tangerine, flowers and, of course, the interior of the house.
4. Patrick White
Nobel laureate Patrick White’s love for Greece permeates his work. He wrote short stories set in Anatolia, Athens and the Levant. His novels have Greek characters and symbols, and of course there was his relationship with Manoly Lascaris, White’s partner of 49 years.
5. Blaine Reininger
American post-punk, new-wave and alternative pop singer, songwriter, musician, multi-instrumentalist (particularly violin), writer and performer Blaine Reininger is known for his music with Tuxedomoon. He moved to Greece from Brussels in 1998 and he lives and works there, even finding love following the death of his first wife.
6. Victoria Hislop
Author Victoria Hislop’s passion for Greece began when she first went on holiday there more than 30 years ago. Her work, The Island, was developed into a miniseries for Greek television and she often heads to Greece to research writing projects. She has learnt the language and speaks it when she appears on television. She also has a house on Crete and has not been shy about rallying in support of the country.
7. Stephen Fry
A good friend can be seen during times of need, and this certainly applies to Stephen Fry who stood by Greece during its times of economic distress. In his own words, “a philhellene who believes that any debt Greece may be in now is as nothing compared to the debt we owe Greece”. Apart from his support of Greece, he has argued for the return of the Parthenon Marbles. Enjoy his podcast on Greece in the “We’ll Always Have Athens” podcast series (https://www.podcastproject.gr/)
8. Lawrence Durrell
On Corfu, Lawrence and his first wife Nancy enjoyed life to the fullest with their daughter Penelope. By 1941, the Nazis occupied Greece and the Durrell’s fled to Egypt, taking with them their crumbling marriage. Durrell’s second marriage to Egyptian woman Yvette Cohen went on to produce a second daughter Sappho, married after the Greek poet, who took her own life in 1985. Thoughout his life Lawrence remained a staunch Philhellene, fascinated by Greek culture and history.
9. Dorothy Lobel King
Dorothy Lobel King, an American author and archaeologist who lives and works in London, has spent much of her professional life writing about Greece and focusing on the country’s enormous contribution to western civilisation. A fan of modern Greece as well, the archaeologist loves the country and has often stood out in support of it.
10. Boris Johnson
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been known to say that he grew up speaking English as a second language in his childhood home, preferring instead to speak Ancient Greek (a comment his sister has denied). He has also said that he reads poetry in Greek to relax. His choice of classical studies and constant references to Ancient Greece reveal a love of Greece, however he stops short of the return of the Parthenon Marbles back to Greece and has been even known to say that they “were rescued quite rightly by Elgin.”