The author at the summit of Mount Athos, June 2013.
Born in London, Graham Speake was educated at St Paul’s School, where he was a Foundation Scholar, Trinity College, Cambridge, where he won an open exhibition in classics as well as several prizes for the composition of Greek verse, and Christ Church, Oxford, where he was awarded a doctorate for a thesis on the Byzantine transmission of ancient Greek literature. He then served for forty years as a publisher, while retaining an active interest in Hellenic studies. His own publications include the Penguin Dictionary of Ancient History (1995) and the two-volume Encyclopedia of Greece and the Hellenic Tradition (2000). He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1996. For twelve years he served as a guest lecturer on Swan Hellenic Cruises which took him to many sacred sites in the eastern Mediterranean. He first visited Mount Athos in 1988 and since then has made a further sixteen pilgrimages. In 1990 he founded the Friends of Mount Athos together with the late Derek Hill. The society, which is under the patronage of HRH The Prince of Wales, now has about 950 members. In 1999 he was received into the Orthodox Church at the monastery of Vatopedi. His book, Mount Athos: Renewal in Paradise, first published in 2002, won the Criticos Prize for that year and was shortlisted for the Runciman Award. A Greek edition appeared in 2005 and it is soon to be published in Romanian.