Feature: A Bent For Cycladic Travel

Long before the hip lotus-eaters of the 1960s discovered their dream world in the Greek islands, a redoubtable pair of travellers had been thoroughly ‘doing’ the Cyclades during the late 19th century. James Theodore Bent and his wife, Mabel, travelled extensively throughout the Aegean, ‘researching’ the cultural life of the islands as much as their archaeology. J Theodore’s 1885 island-by-island book, The Cyclades, Or Life Among the Insular Greeks, is a quirky masterpiece that describes the sights and cultural realities of the islands in the late 19th century – along with Bent’s often eccentric reflections. Look for it online, and in bookshops on bigger islands such as Santorini.