You would be very hard pressed to identify the location of this huge and anonymous block of Victorian-era flats and any association it might have had with Graham Greene. It is Albert Palace Mansions in Lurline Gardens, Battersea, South London. Greene rented a one room flat, No. 141, in 1926-27 while he was working as a sub-editor for The Times newspaper. Next door, Flat No. 141A was recently advertised for sale for a cool £440,000! How times have changed for this London borough which lies close to the River Thames. In Greene’s day, Battersea was distinctly working class and something of the atmosphere of the place which the author knew, with its narrow streets and bustling, crowded markets, survives to this day. Battersea is described with faultless accuracy in Greene’s 1934 novel It’s a Battlefield.
Eight years later, Graham and his wife Vivien returned to South London and to 14 North Side, Clapham which is barely a mile away across the common from Lurline Gardens. This was to become one of the key settings for The End of the Affair (1951). The interior of the fine 18th Century building they lived in before it became a victim of the Blitz in 1940 was also used in what is considered to be one of Greene’s finest short stories, ‘The Destructors’ (1954).