More Information About the Characters in The English Patient

Oh yes, Libya often advertises itself as 'the real Sahara'. Excursions into the Sand Sea of Calarscio and down to Al Jawf are quite popular with tourists. If the current political conditions were more favourable, Libya could have used the incredible success of both The English Patient movie and book as a major tourist dollar draw as Tunisia has done.

In real life, Almasy died much later in Salzburg, Austria. The book's plot is historical fiction, in that it takes many real characters and events and invents a story around them. Almasy actually was an Axis spy -- more importantly, he was Field Marshall Erwin Rommel's personal aide de camp. His knowledge of the terrain proved invaluable to the Afrika Korps in their war against Montgomery. Almasy endured a war crimes trial after WWII, but was let off fairly easily as not much could be proven (and their most important source of information, Rommel, had already committed suicide).

The character of Katharine Clifton is loosely based on Lady Clayton East Clayton, but no evidence has ever surfaced to imply that she and Almasy were ever more than colleagues. She was also a skilled pilot and conducted a desert expedition of her own. She died mysteriously in England after "falling" out of her plane during a routine flight. Suicide has been suggested, but evidently no inquest was ever performed.

Many of Almasy's monographs may still be tracked down and read, but the vast majority of the ones I've seen are in either German or Hungarian. A new film documentary may be in the works as well as a new biography or two, now that public interest in the historical Almasy is at a fever pitch. Surviving family members have hinted that Almasy was homosexual, or at least bisexual, but no conclusive evidence has yet been given to substantiate these claims. As to his alliance during the war, Hungary had already allied itself with the Axis powers (due to its historical ties with Austria and disgust with the hated Treaty of Trianon), so Almasy's behaviour was fairly normal for a Hungarian citizen.


Return to the Cave of Swimmers home page.