English novelist and playwright Graham Greene was one of the most widely read authors of the 20th century. A superb storyteller, he had a flair for writing suspenseful, action-packed stories. His themes were often morally ambiguous and blurred the line between good and evil. A prolific writer, Greene’s bibliography contains over 150 titles, including novels, short stories, children’s books, plays and travel books.
Greene was raised by a wealthy family in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England and attended a Berkhamsted boarding school where his father was the headmaster. Although initially interested in being a barrister, while at school, Greene found his writing voice and also discovered his propensity for teaching. As a young man, Greene suffered bouts of depression. At age 16, he was sent to London for six months where he received psychoanalysis for, what would now be considered, bi-polar disorder, a radical move for his parents to take at that time. He returned after six months to continue his studies in Berkhamsted. Greene later went on to study at Oxford, where his depression continued and he generally isolated himself from his fellow students.
Greene was an avid traveler. His adventures lead him around the globe and were often the inspiration for his books. His first trip abroad to Liberia spawned the travel book Journey Without Maps, while a trip to Mexico was the basis for both The Lawless Roads and The Power and the Glory. Greene’s vast travels lead to his recruitment by MI6, during World War II. His relationship with the British agency was tenuous at best. He has been a member of the Communist party and was even a German sympathizer. He offered his services to spy on the French for the German SS and agreed to write in a pro-German voice while at Oxford. He was also a contributor for the radical right-wing, anti-Semitic publication, The Patriot. However, Greene’s stint with the British agency directly influenced much of his later writings, where he examined the morality of espionage in such writings as The Heart of the Matter, Our Man in Havana and The Human Factor.
Even from his early teenage years, Greene had a fascination for rare and collectible books. He always ensured that the books presented to him were signed and inscribed by the authors. His collection included many of the great literary classics of his day. Greene was acutely aware of the value of his own signature and was notorious for not signing books. This makes copies of his signature especially desirable. Greene once stated that if he had not been an author, he would have opened his own rare and collectable bookstore. He was, in fact, the inspiration for his nephew’s secondhand book store. Greene’s collection was in constant influx. He often traded his books for editions he desired more and put personal stake on books he felt were valuable. He had a keen eye for what he thought would be collectable, and at the time of his death, his library included nearly 3,000 tiles, 500 of which were signed and inscribed.
Raptis Rare Books offers a first edition, inscribed copy of The Comedians, an inscribed, first edition of Monsignor Quixote, as well as a first American edition of England Made Me. Our first edition copy of A Visit to Morin is inscribed to James Bond author Ian Fleming. This is an incredible association copy between these two great British writers of the genre.