'on his eighth birthday, 27 February 1920, an ox-cart drew up outside Everleas Lodge with a present for him - a huge parcel of books. His father had bought him a complete set of Dickens which had belonged to a recently expired tea-planter. Durrell claimed later that he never got beyond the Pickwick Papers (sometimes he said that he got through about ten of them), but Dickens gave him a vision of merrie England... supplemented later by reading Thackeray and R.S. Surtees. In Surtees' convivial tales of the hunting, shooting, sporting Mr Jorrocks and his pursuitful adventures, there was something ruddy, jolly and rumbustious, which appealed to the perky youngster'.