William Miller (1864-1945) created his own career. Although educated as a lawyer at Oxford, he moved to Rome and began writing journal and newspaper articles about current politics and eventually medieval histories of the Balkans and Greece. Fluent in five languages, he wrote ground-breaking histories which led to repeated offers to accept the Chair of Modern Greek and Byzantine History at King’ College London, which he consistently rejected. (Paul Hetherington, “William Miller: Medieval historian and modern journalist”) As a neighbour of the Bagnanis in Rome, he was the sort of intellectual that Gilbert naturally was drawn to, despite a thirty-six year difference in age. When we first encounter them in 1919, nineteen-year-old Gilbert was asking his opinion of the Paris peace negotiations.

At first while in Greece Gilbert was supplying Miller with detailed information about Greek politics but then he began writing newspaper articles himself about archaeological discoveries and eventually was sending political articles directly to the Morning Post. After Gilbert had spent the better part of two years living and traveling in Greece, he had experienced first-hand both the royalist and pro-Venizelist military governments in Greece. After time to reflect he saw more clearly that his own sympathies lay with the aristocratic royalists. 

By contrast, Miller, like most philhellenes outside Greece, supported Venizelos. Disliking the advent of Mussolini’s Fascists in Italy, Miller decided after twenty years in Rome to move permanently to Athens in November 1923. On his return to Greece in May 1924, Gilbert now felt sufficiently self-confident in his own views to oppose Miller, his political and journalistic mentor. The result was a cooling in the friendship between Gilbert and Miller over Greek politics. 

“M[iller], when I said that if I came back [early from Turkey] I wanted to see the Lakes, said ‘But why be in such a hurry to see them now?’ and I answered that I did not know when I should next be in Greece. Whereupon M. said ‘Oh you’ll be in Greece next year. I think you have got the disease very badly.’ I must say that there is a raffroidissement [cooling] between us; so silly just because of the politics of a country which is not our own. Politis is here & once when dining with [the Millers] I let go at Mrs M. about him & the murders [Nikolaos Politis had refused British appeals to intervene to prevent the executions and resigned instead] & she simply took it like a lamb & didn’t answer anything. Of course we saw a good deal of each other & were very amiable but we did not talk controversial politics. … Lady Law came back from [the thermal springs at] Ipati last week and saw her for an instant on Friday [23]. She was just going out &, after saying that she was so glad to see me, she went on to complain how the M[iller]s had gone off and said that they had been so rude to her. Then just as I was leaving her, she asked me to go & motor with her on Saturday [24] and added: ‘It is so nice to meet a gentleman again!’ Wouldn’t the M.s be furious if they knew! Told the remark to Heurtley the Vice Director of the B.S. who simply exploded! [Heurtley knew Miller as he frequented the British School library.] … Everyone seems to have liked my articles on Mykonos; one Miller told me had been translated in the Messager d’Athenes. The dog is as much of a nuisance as ever … I did not see any Venizelists and why should I! … Yes I think I have got the disease badly [loving Greece] but no one can say that I have become royalist through snobbishness; I have only been royalist since they could do nothing for me.” (Monday, 26 May 1924)

At the age of twenty-four, despite his political acuity Gilbert was brash, argumentative and socially immature as seen when confronting Miller’s wife. Miller’s next monograph, Trebizond, the Last Greek Empire, would appear in 1926. Since Gilbert would travel to Trebizond in 1924, he probably shared up-to-date information about the ancient Greek city with Miller, but the book as published lacks any Acknowledgements, and so there is no mention of Gilbert’s name in it. 

Gilbert did not return to Greece until 1936, when he did meet with the Millers in Athens on his way to Yugoslavia. Just before the Germans invaded Greece in April 1941, Miller donated his papers to the British School, and fled from Athens to South Africa, where he died in 1945.