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Graham Greene

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(Redirected from Graham Greene (writer))
This article is about the writer Graham Greene. For the Canadian actor, see Graham Greene (actor).

Graham Greene (October 2, 1904April 3, 1991) was a prolific English novelist.

Contents

Life and work

He was born Henry Graham Greene in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, where his father was headmaster of Berkhamsted School, which he attended. He went on to Balliol College, Oxford, and his first work (a volume of poetry) was published in 1925, while he was an undergraduate. In his autobiography, he gives many details of his difficult childhood. After graduation, he took up a career in journalism. He became a Roman Catholic in 1926 so he could marry Catholic convert Vivien Daryell-Browning, which he did the following year.

His work as a journalist included book and film reviews for The Spectator, and co-editing the magazine Night and Day, which closed down shortly after Greene's comments about Shirley Temple caused the magazine to lose a libel case.

His novels are written in a contemporary, realistic style, often featuring characters troubled by self-doubt and living in seedy or rootless circumstances. The doubts were often of a religious nature, echoing the author's ambiguous attitude to Catholicism.

Throughout his life, Greene was obsessed with travelling far from his native England, to what he called the "wild and remote" places of the world. His travels provided him with opportunities to engage in espionage on behalf of the United Kingdom (in Sierra Leone, for example)- he had been recruited to MI6 by the notorious double agent Kim Philby. He reworked the colorful and exciting characters and places he encountered into the fabric of his novels.

Greene's books were originally divided into two genres: thrillers or mystery/suspense books, such as Brighton Rock, that he himself cast as "entertainments" but which often included a notable philosophical edge, and high literary books such as The Power and the Glory, on which his reputation was thought to be based. As his career lengthened, however, Greene and his readers both found the "entertainments" to be of nearly as high a value as the literary efforts, and Greene's later efforts such as The Human Factor, The Comedians, Our Man in Havana and The Quiet American combine these modes into works of remarkable insight and compression.

Many of his books have been filmed, and he also wrote an original screenplay for the film The Third Man.

In the last years of his life, Greene lived in the small resort city of Vevey, on Lake Geneva in Switzerland. On his passing in 1991, he was interred in the nearby cemetery in Corsier-sur-Vevey. Although he never divorced Daryell-Browning, they had separated shortly after WWII, and he was living with Yvonne Cloetta at the time of his death.

October 2004 saw the publication of the third and final volume of The Life of Graham Greene by Norman Sherry, Greene's official biographer. The writing of this biography created a story in itself in that Sherry followed in Greene's footsteps, even coming down with diseases that Greene had come down with in the same place. Sherry's work reveals that Greene continued to submit reports to British intelligence until the end of his life. This has led scholars and Greene's reading public to entertain the provocative question, "Was Greene a novelist who was also a spy, or was his lifelong literary career the perfect cover?"


Bibliography

Verse

Novels

Autobiography

Travel books

Plays

Short stories

Other

  • Introduction to My Silent War, by Kim Philby, 1968, British Intelligence traitor, mole for Soviets

Further reading

External links

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