With enormous regret we report the death of our greatest Patron and dearest friend Caroline Bourget, daughter of Graham Greene. She died in Corseaux, Switzerland, after a tragic accident at home, aged 87. The Graham Greene Birthplace Trust was founded in 1997 and soon after she became our Patron who sponsored its development. Her generosity enabled the Trust to present annually over the last 21 years The Graham Greene International Festival. Every Festival director benefited greatly from her support, knowledge and connections with Graham’s life and times. Her warmth of spirit was felt each year by Festival goers. To give just one example of her kindness. For the 2004 Centenary Festival to mark Graham’s birth, she brought in her car from Corseaux (where Graham is buried) cases of wine which she had had specially bottled by the local growers, for us all to enjoy. Her funding of the Trust enabled it to fund literary prizes to help young writers and researchers, most notably the bibliographers of Graham Greene, Mike Hill and Jon Wise.
Enjoying her fun company, not least in the Kings Arms in Berkhamsted every year, it was perhaps easy to overlook her adventurous spirit. In the mid-1950s, as a keen horsewoman she bought a ranch in Alberta, Western Canada, near Calgary. Graham gifted her the film rights to the Quiet American for her to sell in order to pay for it, as recounted by Richard Greene in his recent biography Russian Roulette.
To Graham’s great delight, she gave birth to his first grandson in 1962 who sadly died of a heart defect. But soon after and happily she gave birth to Andrew and Jonathan who too come to Berkhamsted in the family tradition. She is survived by her younger brother, Francis. In our fond and grateful memories of Caroline, our heartfelt sympathies go out to them and the wider family.
Giles Clark, Chairman, Graham Greene Birthplace Trust
Over the past two decades it has been my very great honour to consider Caroline Bourget a dear friend. She encouraged my research, spoke freely of her remembrances of her father and mother, and introduced me to members of her family. On my visits to her home in Switzerland, she showed me her extensive research on the castles of Britain which she brought together in an unpublished manuscript. In the evenings we sat and talked over glasses of vodka, for which she had an expert taste, insisting that most of the brands we drink in the west are no good at all. She was kind and gregarious and was a pillar of her church in Vevey and one of the mainstays of its choir. She resembled her father, I think, in fearlessness. As a young woman she established her ranch in western Canada and afterwards travelled the world. My heart goes out to Andrew and Jonathan Bourget and to Francis Greene and to their families for an irreplaceable loss. As for myself I shall always treasure the memory of having known her.
Professor Richard Greene, University of Toronto and author of Russian Roulette: The Life and Times of Graham Greene (2020)