Henry Graham Greene was born on October 2, 1904 in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire. the fourth of six children, he was a shy child who disliked sports and frquently was truant from shcool to read adventure stories. These novels had a deep influence over him and helped shape his writing style. His stories often show treachery and betrayal and is probably linked to his troubled school years in which he was tormented for being the headmaster’s son. After several suicide attempts Greene left school and wrote to his parents that he would not return. His therapist encouraged him to write and helped him see a possible future. He graduated with a B. A. in 1925 and was employed as a subeditor and editor for several publications, including The Times. He married and became Catholic in 1926. His first novel, The Episode was rejected but he finally succeeded in getting published with The Man Within which gave him the ability to become a full time writer. His next two novels did not do well and he was worried about the financial strain but wrote Stamboul Train which was an escapist novel that the public loved. He continued to write both entertaining and serious novels. Greene began to travel the world to satisfy his lust for adventure. This embued his novels with a sense of place and though he declared himself apolitical as a writer he was connected to politics and worked for the oppressed.
Aside from his exotic travels, Greene also had a notorious personal life. He was financially well off and lived comfortably in London, Antibes and Capri. Greene was friends with many famous people; T. S. Eliot, Evelyn Waugh, Ian Fleming and Noel Coward. He and his wife Vivien separated in 1948 but never divorced. Towards the end of his life he lived in Switzerland with his companion Yvonne Clotta. he died on April 3, 1991. The Power and The Glory (1940) was considered his masterpiece. His appeal remains universal–he was able to look at our human capabilities and deficiencies but also for depicting local color and realistic prose.
Please join our Saturday Book Discussion on Saturday, January 14 at 1:30 to discuss The Quiet American. Books are available for check out at the reference desk.