Everything you want – sun, sea, mountains, spring water, shady trees, no politics and a few civilised luxuries. Sounds like a travel advert. But it was how war poet and I Claudius writer Robert Graves described his beloved Majorca.
He is one of a huge number of writers, artists, musicians, actors and other types of celebrities who have been lured to the Mediterranean paradise that is Majorca. It is also a regular destination for film crews – and Spain’s royal family.
If you watched the exciting BBC thriller The Night Manager you will remember the stunning scenery and glamorous home of the villain, who was played by Hugh Laurie. What you may not know is that those star-studded scenes, based on the John Le Carre book, were filmed in the north of Majorca.
It was by no means the first time the Pollenca area has been a refuge for celebrities. Crime writer Agatha Christie chanced upon it by accident when touring the island. She wrote her novel Problem at Pollensa Bay, featuring her hero Parker Pyne, while there. Winston Churchill and the Duke of Windsor stayed in the same hotel.
The movie history of Majorca goes back to 1913. Two of the more recent ones are Cloud Atlas and The Inbetweeners Movie, where the young stars were filmed behaving badly in Magaluf. TV’s Love Island is filmed in Sant Llorenc des Cardasser in the east of Majorca, a destination the programme makers did try – but failed - to keep secret.
Brad Pitt, Harrison Ford, Michael Douglas and his wife Catherine Zeta Jones are among the Hollywood A-listers who love Majorca. King Felipe, the Spanish monarch, and Queen Letizia have a royal residence near Palma and take their young daughters there every year.
The most famous resort for celebrities is the lovely mountainside village of Deia on the west coast. Princess Diana was a visitor, as were Sting, Heston Blumenthal and many others, including musicians, rock stars, artists and authors. Some have homes there. It was where the writer Robert Graves lived for many years and died. He is buried there, and his home has been converted to a small museum.
A more recent author, the Liverpool poet Roger McGough, has been visiting Deia for decades. He once said: “I get a thrill every time I turn that first corner into the village and see the church perched on its peak. I love the way the moon hits the mountains, the way the light changes - but for me it’s the people.”
Classical composer Frederic Chopin lived at Valldemossa in the mountains for what was one of his most productive periods of work, despite being ill, and his partner George Simon wrote her novel A Winter in Mallorca while they were there.
Colourful abstract painter and sculptor Joan Miro lived on the island for the last 27 years of his life. His wife and mother were Majorcan. His house and studio in Cala Major, Palma, have become a museum with a permanent exhibition of his work. He went to live there to be inspired by “the light of Majorca”. (See our article on Palma to learn more).
For visitors who want to know more about how the island’s light and beauty has inspired generations of writers, the aptly-named Walking on Words website offers a choice of walks to places of cultural importance and locations featured in fiction.