Graham Greene (1904–1991) was a novelist, screenwriter, MI6 agent, and chronicler of Cold War conflicts in such places as Vietnam and Haiti. Greene’s career spans six decades, beginning in the 1920s and ending in the 1970s. The son of a schoolmaster, he had a very difficult childhood and adolescence. At Oxford, he devoted himself to poetry, but negative reviews of his first collection convinced him to try journalism instead. In 1926, at the urging of his future wife, he converted to Catholicism. He disliked being described as a “Catholic novelist” but often centered his stories on feelings of spiritual crisis and guilt. The experience of adultery was an especially compelling subject, occupying Greene in such novels as The End of the Affair (1951) and The Quiet American (1955). It was also a subject he knew firsthand, having separated from his wife and beginning a long affair with a married woman. His love of the movies, and their influence on his fiction, helps to distinguish him from earlier writers. Through the 1930s, he reviewed more than 400 films and, in the 1940s, began writing screenplays, the best of which is the one for The Third Man (directed by Carol Reed and released in 1949). In the 1950s, Greene began writing about other parts of the world, setting novels in Africa, South America, and East Asia. His most important works of fiction include Brighton Rock (1938), The Power and the Glory (1940), and The Heart of the Matter (1948).
[Courtesy: Professor Timothy Spurgin]