Upload Your Entry
Eleni Harou

Levkadios Hearn

Levkadios Hearn - Lafcadio Hearn 1850-1904
Levkadios Hearn. 1850-1904.

Let’s go back to Japan in 1904. A Buddhist death ceremony has just taken place. Ask the average man in the street, just returning from the ceremony, and he will tell you sadly that the well known poet Mr. Levkadios Hern is dead. Levkadios? Yes it rings a bell doesn’t it? Isn’t there an island of the “eftanissa” called Lefkada? Ah yes my friend that is correct. And what if I told you this “poet” that the man is rambling sorrowfully about is really the child of a woman who’s surname is Kasimati? But, you ask, how did a Kasimati child get to Japan for goodness sake…well it’s a long tale…let’s start a few years before the year of 1850, the year that Hern was bought into the world. On Kythera a young girl named Rose Kasimati has just met a young Irish soldier serving on the island, and finds herself falling in love. His name is Charles Hern. So here we have the parents. Now let us continue to 1850, when, on the island of Levkada, little Levkadios (the name is of course taken from the island) is being born. So now we have established his existence successfully, let us continue with his story.
At the age of six Levkadios finds himself moving with his family to his fathers home country, Ireland. However soon he must witness the break up of his family as his mother leaves his father, and the bereft husband finds a new wife. Young Hern is left at the mercies of very religious roman-catholic aunt, who decides she wants him to become a priest, and sends him to Durham to study.
At the age of eighteen however, Hern takes his first big travelling decision and sets off for America. Poor, and usually redundant, first in NY, the Cincinnati and finally New Orleans working as a reporter, at last he manages to get a job as an editor.
Soon his work, serious or cynical, begins to collect admirers, however Hern feels uncomfortable with the American way of life.
Still working for his newspaper we next find him in India, dedicating time to describing his travels, and exploring various aspects of the country that interest him to great length. No longer is he just a reporter, now Hern has become a travelling philosopher. But India cannot hold him for long, and a voice calls from the east…
In 1890 Hern got his first sight of “The Land of the Rising Sun”, and to that land he offered his life and soul, as one of the first Europeans to take an interest in the country and become beloved to it’s people. Soon Hern becomes hardly distinguishable from an every day Japanese, he wears local clothing, speaks the lingo almost perfectly and is married to a lovely little Japanese lady of the aristocracy. He teaches English in the university of Tokyo, and is much loved by students and people.
Soon Hern adopted Buddhism as his chosen religion and delved deep into it’s philosophies and ways.
Hern based almost all his work around his beloved new home land, Japan. Poems, stories and studies, all dedicated to her. He bought Japan to the world and the world to Japan, and after his death in 1904 the Japanese continue until this day to honour his memory with celebrations, memorials and various dedications.
And all this from a boy born of Kythera…I do believe the island, or at least it’s soul that passes on forever, is entitled to a little of the praise, don’t you agree?

Leave A comment


Kieran Dunne
on 01.12.2003

Eleni, This is a fascinating story. Do you know from which part of Ireland the father Charles is from? Kieran Dunne Dublin Ireland

Kiriaki Orfanos
on 17.01.2004

thank you so much for this, Eleni, my late mother, also a Kytherian, a lover of the Japanese culture and aware of Hern, would have been tickled pink to know that he was of Kytherian descent Kathy Orfanos

Michael Acton
on 14.02.2004

Eleni, The father of Lafcadio Hearn was Charles Bush Hearn of Dublin, Ireland and his mother was Rosa Antonia Cassimati of Kythera. Rosa's father's name was Anthony Cassimati and her mother's maiden name was Tessima with family ties in Malta. If anyone has any additonal information on the genealogy of the Cassimati or Tessima side of the family, I would enjoy hearing from them. Michael Hearn Acton---Prescott, Az. USA

Site Administrator
on 05.04.2004

Cassimatis (Kassimatis) Cavallini This is about Rosa Antonia Tessima Cerg Kassimatis (Cassimatis) of Kythira Island and her three children from her first marriage:  to Irish Surgeon Charles Hearn; and her four children from her second marriage: to Giovanni Cavallini of Kythira. 1823: Rosa  Antonia Kassimatis Tessima Cerg was born on Cerigo (Kythira) Island. She was christened in the Greek Orthodox Church. (Tessima is  the maiden name of  Rosa's Mother.) 1824: Giovanni Cavallini was born  on Cerigo (Kythira) Island. He was  christened in the Greek Orthodox Church. August 12, 1853 Thirty-year-old Rosa Kassimatis Hearn gave birth to her third child, Charles Kassimatis Hearn on  Kefalonia  (Cefalonia) Island. [Help requested!  How does one find where a Kefalonia birth record could exist of Rosa's third baby, Charles Kassimatis Hearn?] Please send suggestions or  send information to:  David at .  Notes: Rosa's first of 3 Hearn sons, Robert Kassimati Hearn, was born on Lefkas Island.  He died  August, 1850, when he was one-year-old. Rosa Kassimati Hearn's second child, was born on Lefkas Island, June 27, 1850: Patricio Lefcadio Hearn. He became a famous  investigative journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio, and, later,  a literary editor for New Orleans, Louisiana, newspaper. Later he became a world renowned author and an educator in Japan. He died from a heart attack in September, 1904, in Tokyo, Japan, where he is buried. 1856: Before marrying Greek-Italian Giovanni Cavallini  of Cerigo Island,  Rosa Kassimatis sent her three-year-old  son, Charles Kassimati Hearn, - with a wet nurse - from her home in Cerigo   to the Hearn family in Dublin, Ireland.  The Dublin Hearn family changed the three-year-old boy's name from Charles Kassimatis Hearn to James Daniel Hearn. The Hearns sent James immediately to a boarding school in Scotland. James died in Michigan, USA, at the age of 80 in 1933. 1857: Rosa Kassimatis and Giovanni Cavallini, both from Cerigo families of the same social class, married. Rosa is reported to have been "dark with a beautiful face and  large brown eyes like a wild deer's." Giovanni Cavallini, a Kithira Islander of Italian descent,  was a man of some standing.  He was  Ionian Islands' Vice Consul for Austria-Hungary. Prior to that he was a Governor of Cerigotto during the British Protectorate.  His hobby was collecting antiquities. Four Children were born to this couple  on Cerigo Island:  Ziza Cavallini, Catherine Cavallini, Angelo Cavallini (who died in 1947) and George Cavallini   March 25, 1872: Rosa's  highly strong nature, stress, and the lingering unhappiness of her failed first marriage eventually led to a complete breakdown. Rosa Kassimatis Cavallini, 49 years old,  was committed to the National Mental Asylum  on Corfu Island. Giovanni Cavallini and his four children lived on to old age.  Giovanni Cavallini was an amateur archeologist.  He had a large collection of ancient Greek "objets d'art," such as vases, graven stones, arrows and lamps. He also had  ancient coins which he unearthed on Cerigo Island and Cerigotto Island. 1878: The French archeologist, Othon Riemann, met Giovanni at Cerigo   and examined Giovanni's collection. - {Reference: Riemann, "Recherche archeologiques sur les Illes Ionesses" (Paris: Ernest Thorin, 1880) III, 32-4} December 12, 1882: After ten years in the Corfu National  Mental Asylum, Rosa Kassimati Cavallini  died at the age of 59.  {The above asylum dates were   attested to by Spyro Steph, Recorder, National Mental Asylum at Corfu, in a certificate sent to  James' grand-daughter, Mrs. Bebow, St. Louis, Michigan, dated July 13, 1953.} 1905: Rosa's husband and Father of their four children, Giovanni Cavallini, died at the age of 81 1941-45: During World War II, Rosa's son, Angelo, his wife and his unmarried sister, Ziza, moved to Pitsiniaka, a tiny village on Cerigo with a population of about    90 people.  While thousands of city people in Greece were dying of starvation, Angelo, his wife and his sister  in Pitsiniaka had food to eat from their garden (artichokes, broad beans, oranges, olives, lemons, and figs), eggs from their chickens and milk from their goats. During those days, Angelo's and Zazi's relatives, Katerina ("Katina") Kassimatis and her daughter, Anna Kassimatis also  lived in Pitsiniaka. They  often visited Angelo and Zazi. Today, in 2004, Anna Kassimatis is Mrs. Anna Kassimatis Lambrou.  She and her sons live in Sydney, Australia., near her  95 year-old Father,  Theadore Kassimatis. Anna Kassimatis Lambrou is the grand-daughter of Nicolas Kassimatis Nicolas Kassimatis had 2 brothers, George and Panaioti Kassimatis.  Panaioti's grandson, Dr. Emmanuel Helidonis (Manolis), lives in Athens, Greece. Therefore, Anna's and Manolis' grandfathers were brothers. Anna Kassimatis Lambrou of Sydney  and Manolis of Athens enjoy being in touch with each other. March, 2004: Thanks to Anna Kassimatis Lambrou for detailed information in this report concerning  Rosa Kassimatis and her descendants. If anyone has further information or corrections concerning any of the above individuals, please inform me at   Thank you. Brad URL: www.lafcadiohearn.org Osaka, Japan,  March 2004.

James Victor Prineas
on 29.04.2004

Other entries for Lafacadio Hearn can be found by searching under "Hearn". This will also lead to a short biography of his brother - James Daniel Hearn.