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 of London. He left in 1930 to become a film critic for The Spectator.

Greene’s 24 novels included The Power and the Glory (1940), The Heart of the Matter (1948) and The Quiet American (1956). He gained inspiration for them partially from his travels in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mexico, Vietnam and other countries. He 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. In his autobiography A Sort of Life (1971), he 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.”

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.” (Graham Green: Fictions, Faith and Authorship, 2010.) (D. 1991)

PHOTO: Greene at age 35.

Freedom From Religion Foundation