Trust & Festival News
PART TIME CREATIVE WRITING DEGREE
We have been contacted by Cambridge University who have asked us to publicise various part time courses they are running in Creative Writing. The organisers thought the courses may be of interest to readers of Graham Greene. Learn more by going to this website:
JUDGING A BOOK BY ITS COVER
Graham Greene paid close attention to all aspects of the production of his books. Often he was quite harshly judgmental, particularly concerning the cover designs. For example, he wrote to Max Reinhardt, the owner of Bodley Head, in March 1973, complaining at length about the proposed dust-jacket for The Honorary Consul, ‘This hideous array of pastoral scenery gives the impression of a Collins or Hutchinson jacket of a nice romantic novel by Elizabeth Goodge’. Needless to say, he got his way. On another occasion, he took great exception to the covers for new Penguin editions, describing them variously as ‘absurd’ and ‘beyond belief’. By contrast, he declared the American Viking jacket for Brighton Rock to be the best he had ever had on one of his books.
Tim Hetherington, who designed the covers for the current Vintage Classics range of Greene’s novels will be interviewed by Mike Hill on the Saturday morning of the upcoming Festival. One wonders whether or not Greene would have approved of Tim’s work. One thing is for sure – he would have had an opinion.
GRAHAM GREENE STUDIES
The release date for the inaugural edition of the academic journal Graham Greene Studies is 15 August 2017. The journal will be accessible online on the University of North Georgia Press website at no charge and paper copies will also be available. Please keep checking the website for precise access details nearer the time.
Interestingly, for Festival diehards, the first edition of this biennial journal will consist exclusively of talks which were presented at previous festivals. For those with very long memories, these include Professor Cedric Watts’ 1999 paper: ‘Darkest Greeneland: Brighton Rock’. Among other contributors are familiar names such as Judith Adamson, Frances McCormack, Motonori Sato and Neil Sinyard. The inaugural edition is dedicated to David Pearce and includes his memorable speech to the 2009 Festival: ‘Dr. Fischer of Geneva or There’s so Much More to Christmas Crackers’. The editors wanted to retain some elements of David’s inimitable delivery style and so have adopted a ‘light touch’ with the script David provided shortly before he passed away – typically active and involved to the very end.
There is also a hitherto unpublished poem by GG himself!
It has been recently confirmed with our hosts Berkhamsted School that the 20th Graham Greene International Festival will take place 20th -23rd September 2018.
THE MISSING PLAQUE
A plaque commemorating Graham Greene’s brief time working in the city as a journalist in 1925-26 has gone missing – or rather has been deliberately removed to make way for a smart new brass one marking the renovation of the offices where he was employed – Express Buildings in Upper Parliament Street. Read this interesting little feature by going to the Nottingham Post website and simply entering ‘Graham Greene’ in the search box in the top right-hand corner.
Let’s hope the plaque is safe, languishing in some dusty basement and will be found soon – at least The Nottingham Post is on the case. Typically, Greene had mixed feelings about his time in the city but it did provide the setting, ‘Nottwich’, for his 1936 novel A Gun for Sale.
EXPLORING GRAHAM GREENE’S HAVANA
Next year will mark the 60th anniversary of the publication of one of Greene’s best-loved novels – Our Man in Havana. But how much of the old city which Greene describes in detail still exists today? Quite a lot according to Luke Spencer who has written a fascinating account of his visit to Havana armed with a dog-eared copy of the novel tucked under his arm.
Read his article on the Atlas Obscura website: www.atlasobscura.com – just follow the link to Stories. But beware, it will make you want to hop on a plane and go there!
ALLIANCE OF LITERARY SOCIETIES
The Graham Greene Birthplace Trust is affiliated to the Alliance of Literary Societies. You may access the Spring Newsletter by clicking on the link below:
‘Our Journey’ with Greene
A literary themed print exhibition – 13th – 25th March 2017.
at The Upstairs gallery 268 High Street Berkhamsted HP4 1AQ
Private view March 13th 4.30pm – 8.30pm
Bodenpress is a small printmaking studio in Chesham where artists create works using traditional and contemporary methods.
Recently it has been proposed to The Upstairs Gallery Berkhamsted to curate a literary themed exhibition on the locally born Graham Greene. Through the diverse techniques of print, it is suggested that each contributing artist reads a Graham Greene novel and interprets it using any medium in Printmaking in their own artistic style.
15 artists are currently involved in the project and are working towards the March deadline. Helen Boden proposed that all works be of a uniform size to aid the exhibition layout. The work will be shown as a ‘triptych’ showing three interpretations from the book in similar handmade frames. The prints will be signed, titled and numbered.
To celebrate the project Helen would like the work to be reproduced into a catalogue, and a selection of originals placed into limited edition artist book box. These could form part of an existing collection or could go on loan to galleries, libraries, schools and public spaces.
It would be lovely to welcome literary minded visitors to the gallery as well as those with creative appreciation.
Graham Greene Studies
It had been hoped that the inaugural edition of the online journal Graham Greene Studies, a University of North Georgia publication, would have been available by the end of 2016. Unfortunately, Professor Joyce Stavick, the co-editor and founder of the project, had to undergo major eye surgery shortly before Christmas. Understandably, this has held up proceedings. We wish Joyce all the best for a full recovery and hope to bring further news of the journal early in the new year.
CALL FOR PAPERS
The International Anthony Burgess Foundation invites papers to be presented at the centenary conference, ANTHONY BURGESS: LIFE, WORK, REPUTATION. The conference will take place in Manchester on 3, 4, and 5 July 2017.
We would be very grateful if you could forward the following call to your members, researchers and other interested parties, particularly in light of Burgess’s association with Graham Greene.
The conference will have three main points of focus:
Born and educated in Manchester, Burgess spent the Second World War in Gibraltar. After 1945 he spent time in colonial Malaya, Brunei, Russia, Malta, Italy, the United States, France and Monaco. He died in London in 1993. A gifted linguist, he incorporated unfamiliar languages and cultures into the text of his published work. Burgess explored his own life in two volumes of unreliable memoirs, Little Wilson and Big God and You’ve Had Your Time. He has been the subject of numerous biographical works, including the books by Geoffrey Aggeler, Samuel Coale, John J. Stinson and Roger Lewis. The story of his life remains a contested one.
The centenary offers an opportunity to ignite new debates about different aspects of Anthony Burgess’s varied and wide-ranging artistic work. From the colonial fiction of The Malayan Trilogy, he went on to produce social-realist novels about the condition of England in the 1960s; futuristic dystopias (The Wanting Seed, 1985, A Clockwork Orange); comedies (such as the ‘Enderby’ novels); Cold War fiction (e.g. Honey for the Bears, Tremor of Intent), fictionalised biographies of William Shakespeare, John Keats and Christopher Marlowe; experimental novels of the 1970s (M/F, Napoleon Symphony); writing for children (A Long Trip to Tea-Time, The Land Where the Ice Cream Grows); reworkings of mythology (A Vision of Battlements, The Worm and the Ring, Beard’s Roman Women); Biblical fiction (Man of Nazareth, Moses: A Narrative); historical epics (Earthly Powers, Any Old Iron); short fiction (The Devil’s Mode); and other unclassifiable non-fiction books about New York, Mozart, Ernest Hemingway, D.H. Lawrence and James Joyce. He was also active as a translator, composer, dramatist, screenwriter, poet, librettist, journalist, literary historian and essayist. The variety of this work opens up multiple points of engagement.
The conference aims to investigate Burgess’s relationships with other writers, film-makers, artists, musicians and cultural movements of his time. Among his network of friends and associates were (for example) Kingsley Amis, William Boyd, Christine Brooke-Rose, A.S. Byatt, Angela Carter, Shirley Conran, Umberto Eco, Graham Greene, Joseph Heller, B.S. Johnson, Erica Jong, Olivia Manning, George Orwell, Eric Partridge, Thomas Pynchon, Adrienne Rich, Paul Scott, Muriel Spark, Dylan Thomas, Gore Vidal and Evelyn Waugh. As a cultural critic, his reviews took in most of the prominent writers of his time. Burgess also collaborated with visual artists such as David Hockney, the Quay Brothers, Joe Tilson, Fulvio Testa, David Robinson, Edward Pagram and others. Papers which examine the influence of Burgess on international writers of subsequent generations are also encouraged.
The International Anthony Burgess Foundation is particularly keen for the conference to open up new areas of discussion and debate. We encourage papers which deal with areas of Burgess’s life and work which have not received significant attention before now. As we have recently hosted a three-day conference about A Clockwork Orange, we have a strong preference for papers which look beyond this particular work.
The conference will include opportunities to visit Xaverian College and Manchester University, where Burgess studied in the 1920s and 1930s.
Abstracts of up to 200 words should be submitted to: firstname.lastname@example.org on or before 31 January 2017. Enquiries may be sent to the same address.
Dr Graham Foster
Research and Public Engagement Fellow
International Anthony Burgess Foundation
Engine House, Chorlton Mill
3 Cambridge Street
0161 235 0776
ALLIANCE OF LITERARY SOCIETIES
The Graham Greene Birthplace Trust is affiliated to the Alliance of Literary Societies. You may access the Autumn Newsletter by clicking on the link below:
DAVID PEARCE’S FUNERAL
David’s funeral will take place at St Peter’s Church, Berkhamsted on Monday 28 November at 2.00pm. This will be followed by a Requiem Mass at St Peter’s at 11.00am on Saturday 3rd December.
It is with great sadness that we have to announce the death of David R. A. Pearce.
David was a founder member of the Graham Greene Birthplace Trust, a former Festival Director, a Trustee, a great, personal friend of many of you who came to Berkhamsted every year for the festival and a warm-hearted, wise and gentle person.
Since this announcement was made the Trust has received a large number of tributes to David. Here are some of them:
Like Greene, whom he had known and interpreted with such maestria, David had many different faces. He shared his joie de vivre with all of us — Greenians. This was mostly apparent for me whenever he used to parody me in a very friendly way as being Inspector Clouseau and improvise a dance with me in the Hall at Berkhamsted on the happy melody of the Pink Panther.
We are all orphans now, we do miss him and share the grief felt by his family.
I had visited David only a couple of weeks ago and, like Ramon (see his tribute below) , I found his handshake very firm and his mind very clear although he complained that his legs would not work. He knew that his time was limited and his main concern was that he might not finish his second book of poems ! David had been a good friend and neighbour for decades and will be sorely missed in Berkhamsted where he has played many roles – not least of which as a founder and trustee of the GGBT. It was always a pleasure working with him. His wisdom, enthusiasm and humour made every project a pleasure. Our thoughts are with Liz and the family at this time.
It is hard to believe that David is no longer with us. From the first time I attended the Festival – I am not 100% sure but think it was 2002 – David always made me feel welcome and part of the “extended Greene family” of Berkhamsted. I still have his letter of 2004 thanking me profusely for presenting my Third Man exhibition to the Festival and for delivering my talk unhesitatingly although the computer had failed to produce my power-point presentation. His warm-heartedness, his dedication and his puckish smile will stay with me for ever. My thoughts are with Liz.
The festival is a gift for everyone involved, and David has been at the very heart of this in a dynamic way of pure giving. His energy was terrific and his zest for life and all things of the imagination was unforgettable. It is with total sadness that Claire and I have learnt of the passing of this great man, a man of God, and a champion in every sense. Claire always so looked forward to seeing him each September and I will always remember the wise and just way in which he celebrated the life of Graham Greene on BBC Radio 4’s “Great Lives”. David’s insight was penetrative and his sense of humour was infectious to anyone in his presence. We send our sincerest condolences to Liz and the family. God bless you, David. May you know the peace that surpasses understanding, and everything beautiful and glorious. With blessings and grace, Martyn and Claire.
I was notified this morning of David’s passing by Dr. Joyce Stavick, my teacher, mentor, and friend. As some of you know, I was honored (along with my dear wife) to present a talk about Brighton Rock at the 2016 GG Festival this past September. Prior to that, I simply knew David – DRAP – through a four month long relationship via email as I edited and did the layout and design of his poetry collection entitled, The Street, (Fall of 2015).
I remember how amazed I was at David’s eagle’s eye for detail while we edited his book. He would notice the most minute detail or inconsistency as we finished the editing and moved into the layout/design stage of the book. As time went on, we began to exchange more friendly and less cordial emails, and soon, we became friends. Only once, and I say this with a smile of joy as I recall this instance, did he scold me as his editor. He later told me that he had just finished a round of Chemotherapy (I believe), and to please excuse his grouchy demeanor. I grew to love this man because his excitement and energy would fly off of the pages of his emails and bring a feeling of joy to my life. We soon finished his book, published it, marketed it, and then we sort of lost contact until I was notified of my possible participation in the Graham Greene Festival.
David was exuberant about my coming to his homeland and home town. I still have his email telling me that he would give Lori and me a tour of Berkhamsted like no one else could give. Unfortunately, only a week later, he was admitted to hospice. Joyce and I were notified by the family that we would have the honor of seeing David Sunday afternoon, after the conclusion of the luncheon. It is a day I will never forget. It was my first time meeting my email friend, and I’ll never forget the strength of his grip as he greeted me. He seemed so strong in spite of his condition. I will keep the details of that day private because they were intimate, but I will say that David assured Joyce and me that he was ready to “Fly” on his new adventure. Man, the courage he displayed in the face of death showed me a dept of character and a faith that I’ll never, ever forget. I’ve seen a lot of people die in my time. Some peacefully, and, unfortunately, some in violent ways, and yet, David’s stance at death’s door was unique to all of my experiences on this side of Heaven.
My condolences to the family. I do hope and pray that I can return to England and the Graham Greene Festival. It was an honor and a privilege to be there this past fall. To those I met, It was such a joy, to those of you I have not yet met, I hope to do so in the future. God bless.
My last visit with David was Sunday afternoon, September 25, just as the Graham Greene Festival lunch was concluding. David’s first questions were about the Festival. I told him about the great success of this year’s event, and about the double birthday toast. He smiled. But he wanted to know more: “Is the Festival going to continue next year?” When I assured him that the 2017 Festival dates were already secured and that Mike would direct, he smiled in satisfaction and then stressed what we all know was so very important to him: that the Graham Greene International Festival would continue as a vehicle to spread friendships. I told him that in his toast, Giles reminded us all of David’s wish that friendships continue to grow among those of us who gather each year to enjoy the legacy of Graham Greene and to renew friendships.
Memories of his famous tours at Berkhamsted School have already been shared, but I also include those Sunday mornings among my favorite memories of David. And I will never forget the Bomb Party that he hosted as Director of the 2013 Festival. When he wrote to ask me to bring a bomb to the Festival, I wondered if our correspondence would be intercepted by US surveillance – and how I could get even a toy bomb through Immigration and Customs — but I complied by delivering a dog toy that looked like a cartoon bomb! David was also made it possible for me to develop a friendship with Bernard Diederich. I was honored to return the favor when I introduced him to Scott Biddulph, the man who edited David’s recently published volume of poetry, The Street. Scott was with me for that Sunday visit, so the two men got to bond in person after a significant professional relationship that grew into close friendship. Many of you will remember Scott’s 2016 presentation on interpretations of Brighton Rock.
When I must say goodbye to a treasured friend, I find it a good time to remind others of their importance in my life: at the expense of appearing maudlin, I want you to know that you are treasured friends to me, as David was. Knowing you and spending time with you every fall has enriched my life and made me better.
What sad news. Like all of us, I will greatly miss David. He was a gifted teacher, a kind man with an outrageous sense of humor, and a terrific show man. I have an entire hour of David giving a guided tour of Headmaster Greene’s family house, acting out (as he alone could do) hilarious horrors Graham had described as a child.
My deepest condolences to Liz and family and to you all.
I first knew David when he became my English teacher in my last (I think) year at Berkhamsted. He was a great teacher because his love for what he taught gave you the reason for learning it. School can be a dark place but, as I looked up from my desk in that first class, I knew in a millisecond that we were in the company of a hugely amused, very kind and very energetic man from whom there would come no harm and a great deal of enthusiasm and encouragement. The robustness of his kindness and engagement with everything was irrepressible. It is a strange thing but his ability to communicate this was remarkable and unforced because, when I realised this, I can still see in my mind’s eye that all I was looking at was his back, as he reached up to the blackboard. But there was no mistaking it. I am very glad to have known him again in these years of the Birthplace Trust. It is not easy to find such a thing as he helped give us. You have to be very undaunted! And he was.
David was a guiding and inspirational figure in the GGBT, of which he was a founding member, and he was the director of many successful Festivals. His knowledge and experience were immense, and he was very encouraging and supportive of the work of others. He contributed a carefully researched chapter on ‘Stamboul Train’ to ‘Dangerous Edges of Graham Greene’ (Continuum, London & New York, 2011).
Carlos Villar Flor
Thank you for the sad news. As members of the “Greene family”, it is consoling to share our grief over the loss of such a wonderful man. May he rest in eternal peace. We used to greet each other with the word “compañero”, remembering “Monsignor Quixote” . I will miss him terribly.
DRAP was really one of the most life-affirming people I ever met and I feel better for having known him.
Although we all knew he was desperately ill, he still seemed somehow indestructible. A fine, fine man and a real loss to the wider Greene “family”, as well as generations of Berkhamsted pupils.
David was always so enthusiastic, helpful, wise and good-humoured – I have any number of good memories of him.
Our thoughts are with Liz and family.
Ramon Rami Porta
I will never forget my conversations with him, his natural kindness and good humour, and I will treasure for ever the moments I could spend with him just before the beginning of this year’s Festival, when he was still alert and willing to talk, and his hand grip was very strong and the …’why can’t I transfer some of this strength down to my legs’?
He always said that we owe this Brotherhood that we all enjoy to Graham Greene. Greene had the virtue of getting people from so many different domains together around him and his work, which is a big truth.
My sympathy to Liz and his son and daughters.
David was such a remarkable man, and such a good man. I will remember him always. My condolences to Liz and the family, and to you who knew him for so many years.
DRAP was wise, lively, good-humoured, generous, and irreplaceable.
From the first day of my connection with the Trust, David’s kindness, good humour, enthusiasm and support were unfailing. His was a friendship to be treasured and will always be remembered. My deepest sympathy goes to Liz and the family at this time.
David was the dearest man, and he’s irreplaceable.
I am deeply saddened that I will not see him again, and equally relieved for his sake, that he will not go through any further pain. I will re-read some of his poetry and writing, and celebrate his life. He was a lovely man.
In remembrance – and defence – of Norman Sherry
Like many Graham Greene aficionados, I was saddened to learn this week of the death (on 19 October) of that fine scholar and writer, Norman Sherry, aged 91. At the same time, reading the subsequent obituaries served as a reminder of the criticisms, many of them sharp, which Sherry drew as Greene’s biographer. True, his three-volume opus, published between 1989 and 2004, has its faults and idiosyncrasies – but whose work does not? However, from a personal standpoint, I would say that Sherry’s study has matured with the passage of time to a point now when its virtues outweigh its flaws. Yet, as the Daily Telegraph obituary writer noted, at time of publication, and most especially when the final volume emerged twelve years ago, ‘reviewers swooped for the kill, decrying Sherry for including his own travails in the book and for swamping the subject with detail’.
It may be me, but I find that Sherry’s travails add to rather than take away from his work. As for the over-detailed narrative, that is precisely what a researcher starting out needs to get them going – some kind of route-map through the often cluttered terrain of Greene’s inner and outer worlds. Without Sherry as a guide, my own research on Greene in Indochina, and Greene and the Vietnam War generally, would have had less direction, and less certainty as to its ultimate destination.
As I write this brief reflection, I am working in the Burns Library at Boston College wherein exists a fine collection of Greene materials, and where some of the longer-serving archivists recall, with affection tinged now with sadness, Norman Sherry’s time here. Shelley Barber, for one, recalls a researcher who was both ‘genial and gracious’, an adornment to the special collections research room.
Permit me a tangential observation. I arrived in Boston direct from Washington DC, where I attended the 33rd international Churchill conference, hosted by the International Churchill Society. There, another biographer, the late Sir Martin Gilbert, is unanimously and rightly venerated for his exhaustive chronicling of the life of Sir Winston Churchill. Gilbert took on the task when Randolph Churchill passed away having completed the first two volumes of his father’s life. The following six huge tomes, along with vast collections of supporting documents, are entirely Gilbert’s own effort. Nobody, we should note, complains about excessive detail – and there is that a-plenty – in the official Churchill biography.
The contrast with Norman Sherry is stark. Where Gilbert is lauded as the vital Sherpa helping scholars climb to the summit of Mount Churchill – in much the same way, Robert Caro has guided researchers to the lofty peaks of Mount LBJ – the attacks on Sherry’s work were (in his own words) ‘vulgar, nasty and unnecessary’.
But was then. This is now. Time will prove – in fact time has proved – the worth of Sherry’s achievement. And while general readers (and trade publishers) might prefer single-volume, fast-moving and consistently provocative accounts of Greene’s life and work, one suspects that those who write those kinds of books will have relied on Sherry rather more than they may admit.
Writing in the London Evening Standard, David Sexton once described Sherry’s appointment as official biographer as ‘a satirical trick on a gigantic scale, Greene’s last, best joke’. I think now, with the passing of time, some of the joke is on the critics. My own work on Greene is my own; it is uninfluenced by Sherry’s value judgements or conclusions, at least not directly. But I know I still stand in Sherry’s shadow, and happily and profitably so. RIP Norman.
KEVIN RUANE is Professor of Modern History at Canterbury Christ Church University. His most recent book is Churchill and the Bomb (Bloomsbury, 2016), and he is now writing another book, Graham Greene’s Vietnam War which amplifies the themes he first outlined in ‘The Hidden History of Graham Greene’s Vietnam War: Fact, Fiction and The Quiet American’, in the journal History, June 2012.
Norman Sherry dies
Professor Norman Sherry, Graham Greene’s often controversial official biographer, has died at the age of 91. Follow this link to read an obituary which has appeared in The Daily Telegraph:
The Confidential Agent on BBC Radio
The BBC’s timely and generally excellent Graham Greene season continues with a two-part adaptation of The Confidential Agent. Part One will be broadcast on Radio 4 at 3.00pm on Sunday 10th October with Part 2 at the same time the following week. The novel has been adapted by Nick Perry. The series will also be available on BBC I-Player.
A unique item associated with the writing of The Heart of the Matter will be auctioned at 1 pm on 29 September 2016 at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions’ London base, Bloomsbury House, 24 Maddox Street.
Graham Greene’s own proof copy of his bestselling novel, The Heart of the Matter, is estimated at between £20,000-£30,000. It contains Greene’s own marginal markings and emendations indicating changes to words and punctuation. For example, in the famous opening which features Wilson on the balcony of the Bedford Hotel, ‘buzzard’ becomes ‘vulture’ – a fascinating late change by the author, considering that vultures feature so prominently in other parts of the text.
From the post-war years onwards, publishers tended to issue a number of proof copies. Uncorrected proofs of Greene’s later works can be bought for around £100-£200. By contrast, prior to World War II, proof copies were produced exclusively for editorial purposes and therefore are much rarer. In 2012, an uncorrected proof copy of Brighton Rock, signed by Greene, sold for £7,200.
The high estimate in this case is due to the fact that this was the working copy that Greene used in the final revisions and checking of The Heart of the Matter. Interestingly, the copy’s wrapper uses the reverse of part of a dust-jacket for a Heinemann Georgette Heyer title – a sure sign of the strictures forced upon publishers by the post-war paper shortage.
The original, undated 175-page holograph manuscript of The Heart of the Matter forms part of the Catherine Walston-Graham Greene Collection at Georgetown University, Washington DC. The same collection includes two typed manuscripts, both dedicated to Walston; the earlier one, dated November 1947, has hand-written emendations.
In addition to the above, the auction lot includes a copy of the published novel. It carries a personal dedication from Greene to the Heinemann editor A.S. Frere, arguably the most influential person in Greene’s professional life. Both items are preserved in cloth chemises and housed together in a morocco-backed cloth slip-case.
THE INFLUENCE OF GRAHAM GREENE ON A CONTEMPORARY AUTHOR
If you have the appetite for more after this year’s Graham Greene International Festival why not attend the Manchester Literature Festival in October. Author Louise Doughty will be talking about Graham Greene and how he has influenced her own writing. Follow this link:
The Third Man it is
It may be late in the day but the management of the Rex Cinema has finally decided that this year the perennial Greene favourite The Third Man (1949) will be shown on the Thursday night of the festival. Zithers at the ready!
JAMES NAUGHTIE WITHDRAWS
We are very disappointed to have to report that James Naughtie will not be attending this year’s festival. He was due to interview script-writer Nick Warburton on the Friday. James has been requested by the BBC to cover the first of the Hillary Clinton / Donald Trump Presidential debates which takes place at the same time as the festival. He sends his sincere apologies.
Mike Hill will conduct the Warburton interview himself.
LITERARY SPY CRAFT
Dr Creina Mansfield, Graham Greene Birthplace Trustee and festival regular, is running a course in Manchester this Autumn entitled Literary Spy craft. One of the featured texts is The Confidential Agent. If you are interested, please follow the link below.
Radio 4 Documentary Series: OUR MAN IN GREENELAND
The first of five short documentaries about Greene’s travels abroad was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Monday 1 August at 9.30am. It featured BBC Mexico correspondent, Katy Watson, who followed Graham Greene’s 1938 travels around Mexico visiting the regions of Tabasco and Chiapas and featured extracts from The Lawless Roads and The Power and the Glory.
Episode 2 broadcast on 8 August featured The Heart of the Matter and Journey Without Maps. In this documentary Mark Doyle explored Greene’s relationship with West Africa.
Episode 3 will be broadcast on August 15 and will feature Vienna and The Third Man. Bethany Bell will examine Greene’s time spent in the postwar city.
Full marks to the BBC for commissioning this fascinating series of programmes. Remember if you miss any of the series they will all be available on BBC I-Player.
A Sort of Newsletter
If your membership subscription expired last May and you have not yet renewed it please don’t forget to do so. If you go to the A Sort of Newsletter (ASON) page you will find details of the forthcoming August edition of our indispensable publication.
‘A bloody boring book’
Graham Greene spent the immediate post World War II years as deputy managing director of the publishing firm Eyre & Spottiswoode. He managed to offend fellow novelist Anthony Powell in 1948 by describing the author’s latest work, a biography of the seventeenth century diarist John Aubrey, as a ‘bloody boring book’. Consequently Powell, an important name on Eyre & Spottiswoode’s catalogue of writers, threatened to foreclose on his contract with the publisher. This in turn was a major factor in Greene deciding to terminate his engagement with the company.
Sixteen letters from Greene were among a larger collection from a number of prominent 20th Century writers to Anthony Powell which were sold at Bonham’s on the 15 June this year. Although most cover business matters one, which could best be described as a ‘peace offering’ from Greene following the event, suggests they meet ‘as friends’ not as ‘author and publisher’.
A very good account of Greene’s time at Eyre & Spottiswoode can be found in Chapter 14 of the second volume of Norman Sherry’s biography.
Article on Graham Greene by Rubén Moheno
Click on the link below to read a fascinating article on Greene by Rubén Moheno which appears in the current edition of The Rozenberg Quarterly. Those who attended the 2014 Festival and listened to his talk will remember the theme: Greene’s relationship with the country which was the setting for arguably his greatest work: The Power and the Glory. On his return from Mexico in 1938, Greene claimed that he hated both the country and its people and never wanted to ride on a donkey again. When he returned 25 years later his views had not been softened by the passage of time.
However, the full story is more complex than that as Rubén reveals.
OUR MAN IN NORTH GEORGIA
A recent image taken of Quentin Falk who spent a semester lecturing at the University of North Georgia. His boss was Professor Joyce Stavick.
More information about the BBC Radio adaptations of Greene’s works has been received. The BBC has apparently changed the date of transmission for The Power and the Glory. We have been told it will go out on 19th June, with the second part on 26th June. (Stephen Rea is the Priest.) Please scroll down to the LISTEN OUT FOR feature below for other details.
VIVIEN GREENE’S DOLLS HOUSE
The Toll House by Vivien Greene, wife of Graham Greene, will be on public display for the first time at West Dean College, near Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 0RX, as part of the Annual House Opening on 30 April and 1 May 2016, 10.00am to 5.00pm (last entry 4.30pm).
Read Penny Sydenham’s article about the conservation project on The Toll House which is currently underway by clicking on the PDF file link below.
TRAVELS WITH MY AUNT – AGAIN
The old saying that you wait ages for a bus and then two come along at the same time seems to be true in the case of stage productions of Travels With My Aunt. Hot on the heels of the Chichester Festival Theatre musical (see below) there is news of another stage production, this time at the Malvern Festival Theatre in Worcestershire. This stage version, adapted from the novel by Giles Havergal and directed by Amanda Knott, features just four actors who play a breathtaking 20 parts in the production. If you are in the area it is on at the Malvern Theatre, 17-21 May. The local Worcester News ran an interesting article in a recent issue, advertising the play. This can be accessed via this link:
WORDS AND MUSIC
More details are forthcoming about a programme in the Radio 3 Words and Music series which will feature Greene’s writings and music associated with him. It will be broadcast on Radio 3 at 17.30 on 3 April this year. The ‘words’ will be taken exclusively from Greene’s own writings and include extracts from England Made Me, Stamboul Train, Brighton Rock, The Heart of the Matter and The Third Man. Actors Sam West and Romola Garai will read the extracts. The music will include Arthur Honegger’s Pacific 231 and Frederick Delius’s Walk to the Paradise Gardens, both of which Greene claimed in Ways of Escape helped him to write Stamboul Train.
But did music consciously play a significant part in Greene’s life? The programme’s producer Zahid Warley thinks probably not. As part of his research he consulted Mike Hill and Neil Sinyard and the conclusion reached was that musical knowledge and appreciation may have been something he took for granted – rather like the mark of a good education and upbringing.
GREENE IN NORTH GEORGIA
Bernard Diederich is a journalist and biographer who has devoted much of his career to covering political events in Central America and the Caribbean. He served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, The New York Times, Time-Life, and The Daily Telegraph in London. He was with Fidel Castro on his victory march to Havana in 1959. In 1963, because of his news reporting, he was imprisoned by the Haitian dictator Papa Doc Duvalier and was eventually expelled from the country.
Graham Greene first met Diederich in the mid-1950s when the writer visited Haiti. They became life-long friends and the journalist’s intimate knowledge of and contacts in the region assisted Greene with writing about Haiti and the brutality of the Duvalier regime in The Comedians. In the 1970s Bernard Diederich introduced Greene to General Omar Torrijos of Panama. Greene enjoyed a close but tragically short friendship with Panama’s president later describing it in his memoir Getting to Know the General.
The Department of English at North Georgia University, as part of its Visiting Authors Series, hosted two interviews with Bernard Diederich on the 4th and 5th April 2016 at Gainsville and Dahlonega respectively. The interviews were conducted by Philippe Diederich and a name well-known to Greene festival-goers, Quentin Falk.
A NEW PUBLICATION
Please turn to the Current Research page for news of a new publication about Graham Greene.
TRAVELS WITH MY AUNT – A NEW MUSICAL
A musical version of Greene’s 1969 picaresque novel Travels With My Aunt is to be performed at Chichester Festival Theatre 18 April – 4 June 2016. The book is by the Grammy Award winning duo of Rob Cowen and Daniel Lipman with songs and lyrics by George Styles and Anthony Drewe. It will star Patricia Hodge and Steven Pacey.
In a letter to Father Duran in 1971, Greene softly reprimanded the priest over his opinion of Travels. He thought Duran had ‘underestimated’ the novel which he considered to be his second-best after The Power and the Glory, adding that it was, ‘a serious and sad book which just happens to be funny’.
LISTEN OUT FOR:
Don’t despair if you missed Nick Warburton’s dramatisation of Graham Greene’s novel The Honorary Consul. BBC Radio has really got the bit between its teeth in this anniversary year. There are to be three other dramatisations of the writer’s novels to follow The Honorary Consul.
The three are: The Power and the Glory – again adapted by Nick Warburton. Two 60-minute episodes to be broadcast on 19 and 26 June.
Monsignor Quixote – adapted by Stephen Wyatt. Ten 15-minute episodes to be broadcast starting 8 August over a two week period.