Knowing Norman Sherry: A Festival 2019 Preview

Lucinda Cummings-Kilmer, Norman Sherry’s personal researcher and editor, is already booked to speak at the 2019 Graham Greene International Festival. Greene’s official biographer has often been the subject of controversy since his massive three-volume The Life of Graham Greene was first published. Festival Director Dr. Martyn Sampson writes:
‘We are pleased to give advance notice of one of the talks at the Graham Greene International Festival 2019, 19-22 September. Lucinda Cummings-Kilmer, in her talk “Greene & Sherry: The Fox & The Hound”, will explore the experience of working with Norman Sherry, Ph.D., F.R.S.L. Sherry was author of the first authorised biography of Greene which ran to three volumes (1989, 1994 and 1999).
Norman Sherry was the Distinguished Professor of English Literature Trinity University of San Antonio, Texas, from 1983 until his retirement in 2010. He passed in 2016, aged 91. Lucinda was Sherry’s researcher/editor on volumes I & III, for eleven years, spanning 1986 to 2005, at Trinity University. Working with Professor Sherry’s thousands of chronological files and photographs compiled from his research beginning in 1975, Lucinda served as what she terms “an acolyte to genius”, overseeing Sherry’s archives and doing manuscript preparation during those busy years while he was grinding out chapter after chapter. When asked if she is an expert on Graham Greene, she answers, “No, I am an expert on the expert on Graham Greene.” Lucinda believes Norman Sherry set the standard for literary detective pursuits. She has a special love for the genre of biography. She was a guest scholar at Trinity for one semester, working on her book about Norman. She is a graduate of Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky.
In her abstract, Lucinda writes:
“Norman Sherry dedicated his life to English literature, principally Joseph Conrad and Graham Greene. He was a ranked scholar in his field. His niche was described as ‘literary detective’ work, a term he defined and quite frankly, revelled in. Whether it was in the basement of the library at Singapore, reading thousands of newspapers and shipping records and manifests for Conrad, or getting sick in the jungle, mountains or tropics chasing Graham, Norman was a truth detector and suffered greatly for his art. His determination to literally follow in Graham’s footsteps was well-known. His adventures were revelatory to the character of Greene, as well as to Norman’s dogged terrier-like digging propensity. I track Norman’s journeys as they mirrored Graham’s. My conclusion is that Graham followed trouble and conflict and drama as it occurred the world over, in order to keep his demons at bay, and Norman followed Graham to satisfy those angels on his shoulder who were bidding him to tell the truth. That man would read two whole history books simply to get a couple of endnotes right. I have pictures of Norman in various venues as well as in the midst of putting order to the chaos that was his office. I learned much from him:  how to write and just as crucially, how not to. I know I am ending my sentences with prepositions, but I am Churchillian; wasn’t it he who said, ‘Ending sentences with a preposition is something up with which we English will not put’? Even if he didn’t say it, he could have. I have no advanced degree, just a B.S., but I was an English major for much of my college years, and working for Norman felt like an 18-year Ph.D. program.”’
Over the coming months we will feature more articles about what to expect to see and hear at the forthcoming festival .