(Henry) Graham Greene
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(Henry) Graham Greene
English novelist, short-story writer, playwright and journalist, whose novels treat moral issues in the context of political settings. Greene is one of the most widely read novelist of the 20th-century, a superb storyteller. Adventure and suspense are constant elements in his novels and many of his books have been made into successful films. Although Greene was a candidate for the Nobel Prize for Literature several times, he never received the award.
"The main characters in a novel must necessarily have some kinship to the author, they come out of his body as a child comes from the womb, then the umbilical cord is cut, and they grow into independence. The more the author knows of his own character the more he can distance himself from his invented characters and the more room they have to grow in." (Graham Greene in Ways of Escape, 1980)
Graham Greene was born in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, as the son of Charles Greene and Marion Raymond Greene, a first cousin of the author Robert Louis Stevenson. Greene's father had a poor academic record but became the headmaster of Berkhamsted School, following Dr. Thomas Fry. Charles Greene had a brilliant intellect. Originally he had intended to become a barrister. However, he found that he had liking for teaching and he decided to stay at Berkhamsted. Often his history lessons were less lessons than comments on the crack-up of Liberalism. His brother Graham ended his career as Permanent Secretary at the Admiralty.
Greene was educated at Berkhamstead School and Balliol College, Oxford. He had a natural talent for writing, and during his three years at Balliol, he published more than sixty poems, stories, articles and reviews, most of which appeared in the student magazine Oxford Outlook and in the Weekly Westminster Gazette. In 1926 he converted to Roman Catholicism, later explaining that "I hand to find a religion . to measure my evil against." When critics started to study the religious faith in his work, Greene complained that he hated the term 'Catholic novelist'.
In 1926 Geene moved to London. He worked for the Times of London (1926-30), and for the Spectator, where he was a film critic and a literary editor until 1940. In 1927 he married Vivien Dayrell-Browning. After the collapse of their marriage, he had several relationships, among others in the 1950s with the Swedish actress Anita Bj