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Passionate Patron: The Life of Alexander Hardcastle and the Greek Temples of Agrigento

Passionate Patron: The Life of Alexander Hardcastle and the Greek Temples of Agrigento (Paperback)

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Synopsis

In this account, Alexandra Richardson reveals (as she says in her introduction) her quest to get to know a 'remarkable man who wholly dedicated his later life and finances to restoring and excavating what is surely one of the finest classical Greek sites in the Western Mediterranean. I rapidly began to be drawn in to the sketchy, sometimes speculative, details surrounding the remarkable Captain Hardcastle...I thought back to his unlit villa beside the theatrically shining temples, and the more I got to know the man, the more it seemed entirely in keeping with his personality that his former home should still be not be sharing the spotlight with the great monuments he was so intimately involved with. He remained a mysterious and private person who kept his own counsel throughout life. I was to discover that he wrote very few letters home to his family from the Far East, South Africa, Italy. And when he did write to the chosen few, I had to learn to read between the lines. Luckily his own family wrote to one another making mention of him...With so little to go on, it was just the sort of challenge that a researcher relishes.

The Anglo-Italian theme was yet another appeal, my instinctive habitat. No full-scale biography had ever been written about him and thus I was not stepping on any toes. I had the field all to myself, piecing together a profile from many sources, set largely in a period of modern Sicilian history, the 1920s and early '30s rarely "popularised" by foreign writers. That was all how the four-year journey began...' 'This book is the labour of years of research and scholarship. In Alexandra Richardson's book, the personality of Alexander Hardcastle comes to life in all its many facets. Her detailed account of the history of Agrigento is historically correct and written in a fluid style. Her descriptions of Sicily are accurate and lyrical, her cameos of Sicilians witty and a pleasure to read. Richardson's rigorous research describes his painful and determined iter from London to Girgenti, his stubborness and his resilience.' - Simonetta Agnello Hornby, 'The Almond Picker'

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