Stella Leventoyannis Harvey

Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself.” Desiderius Erasmus

After hearing about my latest project and my search for information regarding the Greco-Turkish war of 1919-1922 and the Greeks of Egypt, among other topics, a friend of mine, author, Bessie Livanou recommended I contact the Gennadius Library. I met with senior librarian, Irini Solomonidi this week. More about that in a minute, but first let me tell you about the library. In a word: incredible!

The Gennadius is located in a gorgeous neo-classical building near Mount Lycabettus. It was designed by American architect, Stuart Thompson and opened in 1926 with 26,000 books donated by diplomat and bibliophile, Joannes Gennadius. It now holds over 120,000 books, manuscripts, and archives.

Two floors of books in the main hall, where I sat, surrounded me. Letters and Lord Byron’s funeral wreath were housed in the glass case just beside me. I am without words to describe the feeling of reverence a place like the Gennadius inspires. I remain star-struck and get goose bumps when I think of the library.

Irini was incredibly helpful and engaged in my project. She did a search of books and articles in English about the time period and subjects I was looking for, printed a list of articles and books I might be interested in, and another staff member retrieved the material I chose.

You can’t sign out a book from the Gennadius, but you can scan content and, of course, spend time in the library reading material.

One book Irini directed me to, The Heirs of the Greek Catastrophe by Renee Hirschon confirmed some of the story (scenes, life after the catastrophe) I had already created in my new novel.

To feel real, fiction has to be based in fact, or at least my fiction does. So I was thankful to get this confirmation and to figure out how I might do other searches on line through the Gennadius. The library, like all libraries shone some light in an area of my novel I was uncertain about and affirmed I was on the right track. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

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