Graham Greene

(1904-1991)

Graham Greene was born in 1904, the fourth of six children. He was educated at Berkhamsted School and Balliol College, Oxford. While still an undergraduate he wrote articles for local papers and published his first book - of poetry. He also met his future wife and, influenced by her, was received into the Catholic Church in 1926. In the same year he began working on the Times as a sub-editor. Greene's first novel, THE MAN WITHIN, was published in 1929 and its favourable reception led him to resign from the Times to take up full-time writing. Success however eluded him until the publication of STAMBOUL TRAIN, his fourth novel, in 1932. He meanwhile depended on freelance journalism, reviewing books and films for the Spectator and co-editing a magazine, Night and Day. Greene travelled throughout his life. A trip to Sweden resulted in ENGLAND MADE ME. In 1935 he trekked across northern Liberia, (described in JOURNEY WITHOUT MAPS) and his 1938 travels in Mexico, sponsored by Longmans, inspired THE LAWLESS ROADS and THE POWER AND THE GLORY. During the war, he worked for the Foreign Office and spent 1942-43 in Sierra Leone (the setting for THE HEART OF THE MATTER). After the war he returned to journalism and began a series of wide-ranging travels which gave rise to THE QUIET AMERICAN, OUR MAN IN HAVANA, A BURNT OUT CASE, THE COMEDIANS, TRAVELS WITH MY AUNT, THE HONORARY CONSUL, THE HUMAN FACTOR, MONSIGNOR QUIXOTE and THE CAPTAIN AND THE ENEMY. Beside the novels, which have been translated into many languages, most of which are currently in print in English, Greene wrote collections of short stories and essays, two works of autobiography (A SORT OF A LIFE and WAYS OF ESCAPE), two biographies, eight plays - among them THE LIVING ROOM (1953), THE POTTING SHED (1957) and THE COMPLAISANT LOVER (1959) - a book on English dramatists and four illustrated children’s books. A number of his novels and short stories have been made into films (in some cases more than once) but the most famous of these was written by him as a film script (THE THIRD MAN with Orson Welles) and only later rewritten as a novel. A collection of his articles and reports on religious themes was published posthumously.

 

Graham Greene was named a Companion of Honour in 1966 and received the British Order of Merit in 1986. He died in April 1991 at the age of 86.

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