Friday, September 14, 2007


In newly published intimate letters to his wife and mistresses, Graham Greene reveals his loves and his betrayals, the guilt that he felt and his struggle with depression

In the spring of 1925 Graham Greene (then 20 years old) fell in love with the fervently Roman Catholic Vivienne Dayrell-Browning. For the next two years he courted her, mainly in an outpouring of hundreds of letters, and they were married in October 1927. There is no doubt that they were fond of each other, but neither was ready for this step. Greene was managing the impulses of bipolar illness, involving mood swings from elation, expansiveness or irritability to despair and would quickly be guilty of repeated infidelities.

Vivien (as she then began to spell her name) affected an extreme girlishness, was uneasy about sex and could be both priggish and sentimental. Their marriage had some periods of happiness, but Greene became deeply absorbed in his writing and would often go abroad. Vivien developed interests in Victorian furniture and antiquated dolls’ houses. The couple had two children, Lucy Caroline and Francis. The marriage effectively came to an end in 1939, but a formal separation did not occur until 1947. As part of his courtship of Vivien, Greene adopted her religion.

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