Graham Greene

On this date in 1904, Graham Greene was born in Hertfordshire, England. He graduated with a B.A. in history from Balliol College in 1925, where he worked as an editor for The Oxford Outlook. After graduating, he became an editor for The Times. He left in 1930 to become a film critic for The Spectator. Greene was an esteemed novelist who wrote 24 novels, including The Power and the Glory (1940), The Heart of the Matter (1948) and The Quiet American (1956). He gained inspiration for his novels partially from his travels in countries including Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mexico and Vietnam. Greene also published short stories and screenplays including “The Third Man” (1949). Greene worked for the British Secret Intelligence Service during World War II.

Greene was an agnostic who converted to Catholicism in 1926, after becoming engaged to Vivien Dayrell-Browning, who was Catholic. In his autobiography A Sort of Life (1971), Greene wrote that his conversion was difficult: “I disbelieved in God. If I were ever to be convinced in even the remote possibility of a supreme, omnipotent and omniscient power I realized that nothing afterwards could seem impossible. It was on the ground of dogmatic atheism that I fought and fought hard.” Although Catholic, Greene questioned his faith. “When I became a Catholic and had to take another name, I took Thomas, after the doubter,” Greene is quoted as saying in part two of Graham Greene: On the Frontier (1988) by Maria Couto. After his conversion, many of his novels and stories included Catholic themes. However, in a 1987 interview, Greene said, “I've always found it difficult to believe in God. I suppose I'd now call myself a Catholic atheist” (quoted in The New York Times, 1991). Robin Turton, a politician and friend of Greene, said: “I think in my life I’ve never heard atheism put forward better than by Graham” (quoted in Graham Green: Fictions, Faith and Authorship (2010) by Michael Brennan). D. 1991

“I prefer to be an agnostic and think that the body itself produces its own miracle.”

—Letter to his publicist, Ragnar Svanström, on May 13, 1977, quoted in Graham Greene: A Life in Letters (2007) by Richard Greene.

Compiled by Sabrina Gaylor

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