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Graham Greene

Graham Greene

Known For: Acting · Birthday: 1952-06-22

84 Movies · 6 TV Series

Biography

Henry Graham Greene (2 October 1904 – 3 April 1991), professionally known as Graham Greene, was an English writer and journalist regarded by many as one of the leading English novelists of the 20th century. Combining literary acclaim with widespread popularity, Greene acquired a reputation early in his lifetime as a major writer, both of serious Catholic novels, and of thrillers (or "entertainments" as he termed them). He was shortlisted, in 1966 and 1967, for the Nobel Prize for Literature. Through 67 years of writings, which included over 25 novels, he explored the ambivalent moral and political issues of the modern world, often through a Catholic perspective. Although Greene objected strongly to being described as a Roman Catholic novelist, rather than as a novelist who happened to be Catholic, Catholic religious themes are at the root of much of his writing, especially the four major Catholic novels: Brighton Rock, The Power and the Glory, The Heart of the Matter, and The End of the Affair; which have been named "the gold standard" of the Catholic novel. Several works, such as The Confidential Agent, The Quiet American, Our Man in Havana, The Human Factor, and his screenplay for The Third Man, also show Greene's avid interest in the workings and intrigues of international politics and espionage. Greene was born in Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire into a large, influential family that included the owners of the Greene King Brewery. He boarded at Berkhamsted School in Hertfordshire, where his father taught and became headmaster. Unhappy at the school, he attempted suicide several times. He attended Balliol College, Oxford, to study history, where, while an undergraduate, he published his first work in 1925—a poorly received volume of poetry, Babbling April. After graduating, Greene worked first as a private tutor and then as a journalist—first on the Nottingham Journal and then as a sub-editor on The Times. He converted to Catholicism in 1926 after meeting his future wife, Vivien Dayrell-Browning. Later in life he took to calling himself a "Catholic agnostic". He published his first novel, The Man Within, in 1929; its favourable reception enabled him to work full-time as a novelist. He supplemented his novelist's income with freelance journalism, and book and film reviews. His 1937 film review of Wee Willie Winkie (for the British journal Night and Day), commented on the sexuality of the nine-year-old star, Shirley Temple. This provoked Twentieth Century Fox to sue, prompting Greene to live in Mexico until after the trial was over. While in Mexico, Greene developed the ideas for The Power and the Glory. Greene originally divided his fiction into two genres (which he described as "entertainments" and "novels"): thrillers—often with notable philosophic edges—such as The Ministry of Fear; and literary works—on which he thought his literary reputation would rest—such as The Power and the Glory. Greene had a history of depression, which had a profound effect on his writing and personal life. In a letter to his wife, Vivien, he told her that he had "a character profoundly antagonistic to ordinary domestic life," and that "unfortunately, the disease is also one's material." William Golding praised Greene as "the ultimate chronicler of twentieth-century man's consciousness and anxiety." He died in 1991, at age 86, of leukemia, and was buried in Corseaux cemetery.

Personal Life

After meeting his future wife Vivien Dayrell-Browning, Greene was baptised into the Catholic faith on 26 February 1926, and they were married on 15 October 1927 at St Mary's Church, Hampstead, North London. The Greenes had two children, Lucy Caroline (born 1933) and Francis (born 1936). In his discussions with Father Trollope, the priest to whom he went for instruction in Catholicism, Greene argued with the cleric "on the ground of dogmatic atheism", as Greene's primary difficulty with religion was what he termed the "if" surrounding God's existence. He found, however, that "after a few weeks of serious argument the 'if' was becoming less and less improbable", and Greene finally was converted and baptised after vigorous arguments initially with the priest in which he defended atheism, or at least the "if" of agnosticism. Late in life, however, Greene took to calling himself a "Catholic agnostic".Beginning in 1946, Greene had an affair with Catherine Walston, the wife of Harry Walston, a wealthy farmer and future life peer. That relationship is generally thought to have informed the writing of The End of the Affair, published in 1951, when the affair came to an end. Greene left his family in 1947, but in accordance with Catholic teaching, Vivien refused to grant him a divorce, and they remained married until Greene's death in 1991. Greene suffered from manic depression (bipolar disorder).

Movies & TV Series

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