What’s On Nash’s Bedside Table?
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way!”
Anna Karenina, Chapter 1, First Line
Count Leo Tolstoy
Russian Mystic & Novelist (1828 - 1910)
That familiar quote coined by Leo Tolstoy is one best kept in mind when reading any book detailing the life and times of a family, especially in a biographical sense.
I make mention of this quote since it is appropriate and oh so applicable to the tome I just finished reading: Shades Of Greene, by Jeremy Lewis.
A fascinating read and one I stumbled upon only by chance. Traditionally for me, this subject matter was a departure! Honestly, "going in" I have to admit I knew very little about the "Greenes." With the exception of Graham!
That being said, this highly entertaining volume gave me the opportunity to delve into an incredibly interesting group of individuals, kindred by blood, all cousins of the same generation, who individually led fascinating lives, juxtaposed against a changing world landscape, and in so doing left their mark in various arenas, predominately that of the arts, with some underpinnings in espionage and medicine!
As such, I would definitely recommend this book to my fellow esoteric!
A Talented Tribe of Trailblazers
Graham Greene may be his family’s most famous member, but the novelist was surrounded by gifted siblings and cousins who made their own mark on the world. In his new book, Jeremy Lewis discovers a clan full of surprises!
July 24, 2010
By Jeremy Lewis
Shades of Greene by Jeremy Lewis
In the early years of the last century, two brothers found themselves living in a small Hertfordshire town. The elder, Charles, was the headmaster of Berkhamsted School; his six children included Graham Greene, the novelist, and Hugh Carleton Greene, the BBC’s controversial director-general in the Sixties and the bête noire of Mary Whitehouse. They were a gifted lot, elegant and clever, with round heads like cannonballs and bulbous blue eyes. A natural reserve was attributed by some to an innate coldness of disposition, by others to shyness.
After making a fortune in the coffee trade, Charles’s younger brother, Edward, bought an enormous house on the edge of Berkhamsted, and he too had six children. The “rich” Greene children had an exotic air – their mother was German and they had spent their childhood in Brazil – but they were thought to be woolly-minded by the “intellectual” Greenes, who considered themselves harder-headed and more down-to-earth. Both sets of cousins were extremely tall – so much so that when Ben Greene, the oldest of the “rich” Greene boys, was interned in Brixton in May 1940 at the same time as Oswald Mosley, his bunk had to be extended with a pile of bricks.
From left) Graham, Raymond, Herbert, Hugh, Molly and Elizabeth
Four years ago I was asked if I would like to write a book about the Greenes. I hurried to accept, but – knowing nothing about the other members of the tribe – I worried that I would end up producing yet another biography of Graham Greene, with Hugh as his lieutenant and the other Greenes in spear-carrying roles. Nor did I want to write a conventional family history, starting with the establishment of the Greene King Brewery in the early 19th century and plodding dutifully down the generations.
I decided to concentrate on one generation of Greenes and, as it turned out, many of the 12 children led unusually interesting, varied and well-documented lives, lives that, particularly in the period between 1920 and the Forties, were full of hope and promise, and more interlaced than they later became. As I came to discover, the Greenes were a truly remarkable clan, embodying a vanished world of upper-middle-class enterprise and self-assurance.
Brighton Rock (1938) established Graham Greene’s reputation as a bestselling novelist who was also admired by the critics, and by the time war broke out the following year, he was a well-established figure on the literary scene: he had walked through Liberia with his cousin Barbara, who irritated him by publishing a far funnier and more entertaining account of their adventures than his better-known Journey Without Maps; he had edited Night and Day, the most stylish magazine of its time, and written a book about his travels in Mexico.
But he was not the only member of his immediate family to make his mark in the pre-war years. His older brother Raymond was a brilliant mountaineer and a pioneering endocrinologist, much revered by climbers and medical men. He took part in the 1933 Everest expedition, alongside Eric Shipton and F S Smythe; in later life he diagnosed Guy the Gorilla’s thyroid problems and provided Graham with medical advice for his novels.
Raymond and Graham were rivals when young; but for Hugh, the youngest boy, Graham felt a lifelong affection. Hugh became a journalist after leaving Oxford: he was The Daily Telegraph’s Berlin correspondent from 1934 until his expulsion in May 1939, covering the “Night of the Long Knives” and “Kristallnacht”, and incurring Goebbels’s wrath by laughing out loud when a burly SS man plucked the tiny propaganda minister up by the armpits and lifted him into a moving train.
The eldest boy, Herbert, could not have been more different from his brothers. A drunkard, remittance man and fantasist, he tried his hand as a tobacco farmer in Rhodesia, was shipped home from South America, and settled in Barons Court, sponging off his parents until Graham became his paymaster.
The Greenes were drawn to spying and writing, and Herbert was keen to keep his end up. He spied for the Japanese, feeding a naval attaché with information picked up in pubs or from old newspapers; he offered his services to the Russians, who passed his letter straight on to the Foreign Office. “I am warning you, Greene, that if you are not more careful you will find yourself in the Thames,” an MI5 official warned him.
The “rich” Greenes, too, were forging ahead. Ben, the eldest, was a Quaker and a pacifist. He left Oxford to do relief work in Central Europe and in southern Russia during the 1923 famine. Back in England, he joined the ILP, worked for Attlee and Ramsay MacDonald, and made a reputation as a well-meaning irritant on the Labour Party’s Left wing.
In 1938 he was sent by the Quakers to organize help for the Jews after “Kristallnacht”, but although he always thought of himself as a socialist, and was regarded as a kindly “‘gentle giant”’, he found himself mixing with some very dubious types as war approached. Together with the future Duke of Bedford and John Beckett, who had abandoned the British Union of Fascists as insufficiently anti-Semitic, he founded the British People’s Party to campaign against war with Hitler. His fellow internees included Captain Ramsay, a keen admirer of the Nazis, who urged Ben to put his son down for Eton.
The youngest of Edward Greene’s children, Felix, combined exceptional competence and efficiency with a fatal yearning for an all-explaining system of belief; he excelled at everything he did, but was forever hurrying on to pastures new. He joined the BBC after leaving Cambridge: as a pioneer of “Social Action Broadcasting”, he interviewed unemployed men from north-east England and south Wales, infuriating the government and so impressing Sir John Reith, the director-general, that he was sent out to run the BBC in North America. Felix was a pacifist who resigned from the BBC when war broke out; he designed and built, almost single-handed, a monastery in the Californian desert, and spent much of the war deep in prayer, along with Aldous Huxley and his irreverent cousin Christopher Isherwood.
Graham’s younger sister, Elisabeth, had joined MI6 in 1938, enlisting both Graham and Malcolm Muggeridge into the “firm”. Graham was posted to Sierra Leone, before working with Kim Philby at MI6 headquarters in St Albans; Elisabeth and her husband, Rodney Dennys, were with MI6 in the Middle East throughout the war, working closely with Brigadier Dudley Clarke, the great master of deception.
Although Herbert continued to embarrass his siblings – he threatened to organize a march to Parliament Square when Hugh, who had become the BBC’s director of news and current affairs, moved the Home Service’s nine o’clock news to 10 and phased out the bongs of Big Ben – Graham, Hugh and Felix are the three Greenes whose post-war activities are of most interest to the world at large. Graham became ever more eminent in the literary world, both as a writer and a publisher; Hugh, who shared Graham’s taste for mischief-making, happily outraged stuffier BBC viewers by lending his support to the satirical comedy That Was the Week That Was and the subversive Wednesday Play; Felix imported antiques and cashmere jerseys into California before setting himself up as an enthusiastic devotee of Communist China, about which he wrote two books despite never learning to speak or read Chinese.
Felix was, I suspect, the most naturally gifted of all the Greenes, but I often wanted to give him a sharp kick, not least when he refused a suggestion that he should bring his organizational ability to bear among the refugees of post-war Europe, claiming that he would be better employed in praying for the world at large. I found poor Herbert irresistible, much as he maddened Hugh and Graham. I came to love Graham for his generosity to his family, and to the support he gave to young writers.
The Greenes are not an easy tribe to warm to – the “intellectual” Greenes in particular were often seen as having ice in their veins, a by-product of shyness and a disconcerting detachment – but spending four years in their company has left me both admiring and envious: admiring of their achievements; envious of the self-confidence and ability of that generation of upper-middle-class Englishmen and women; a world I glimpsed in my childhood, but which has now gone forever.
Graham is famous, but what about the other Greenes?
Ian Thomson investigates
July 31, 2010
Shades Of Greene:
One Generation of an English Family
by Jeremy Lewis
The article below got ahead of events in suggesting that Graham Greene's brother Raymond conquered Everest in 1933. Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay achieved that in 1953.
Graham Greene's darkest entertainment, The Third Man, ends with a shoot-out in the sewers of Vienna and the death of the penicillin racketeer Harry Lime. A convert to Catholicism, Greene had found a suitable image for man's fallen state in the city's reeking underworld. And Lime, with his opportunist loyalties, is a familiar Greene character, whose surname suggests the quicklime in which murderers were said to be buried. One could see him as a fictional counterpart of the British double-agent Kim Philby, who had betrayed fellow spies to the Soviet Union. Philby had earlier helped communists to escape through the Vienna sewers in 1934; newspapers later dubbed him "the Third Man", a soubriquet that has lost none of its resonance in the era of Peter Mandelson.
Written in 1948 as a film treatment, The Third Man made much of east-west border tensions and, as such, reflected a personal anxiety of Greene's. Frontiers have a dynamism of their own in his fiction, and typically set off a reflex of unease. The novelist's father, Charles Greene, had been the pious Anglican headmaster of a public school in Berkhamsted near London, and each day Greene experienced divided loyalties as he left the family quarters to go to class. His literary gift, later, was to locate the moment of crisis when a character transgresses a border of some sort, whether geographical, religious or political, and life is exposed in all its drab wonder.
Greene came from a family that guarded its secrets. His five brothers and sisters were all, in their different ways, involved in acts of subterfuge. The eldest brother Herbert was, in the words of Jeremy Lewis, a "shabby fantasist" who consorted with remittance men and confidence-tricksters. He appears, thinly disguised, as the conman Anthony Farrant in Greene's 1935 novel England Made Me, and served as a model for other crooks and compromised characters who inhabit "Greeneland". To Greene's dismay, Herbert had acted as a spy for the fascists during the Spanish civil war, and all his life displayed a deep moral turpitude and opportunism.
Espionage runs through the Greene family like a cold war melodrama. The novelist's adored sister Elisabeth was an MI6 operative who briefly numbered Philby among her friends. Sleazily, Greene family members even spied on each other. Ben Greene, an intransigent anti-capitalist, was incarcerated for seven months in 1940 in Brixton prison after his cousin Herbert had betrayed him as a National Socialist sympathiser or "fifth columnist". Not all the Greenes were so unfortunate in their careers. During the 30s, Graham's youngest brother Hugh had been Berlin correspondent for the Daily Telegraph; triumphantly, he criticised Hitler's maltreatment of Jews, and was reckoned by Joseph Goebbels to be an agent provocateur if not a British government snoop.
In 1934, according to Jeremy Lewis, Greene called on Hugh in Berlin en route to the Estonian capital of Tallinn. Tallinn was the Baltic port closest to Leningrad and known to be a centre for espionage. A film sketch conceived by Greene not long afterwards, "Nobody to Blame", concerns a British sales representative in Estonia ("Latesthia") for Singer Sewing Machines, who turns out to be an MI6 agent. The film was never made, as it poked fun at British intelligence; yet it contained the bare bones of what was to become Our Man in Tallinn, later Our Man in Havana, still the funniest of all spy novels.
A writer of such shadowy complexity would need a very good biographer and, at first, it looked as though Greene had found him in Norman Sherry, who devoted 30 years to his subject and scrutinised every love affair. After Greene died in 1991, at the age of 86, more biographies followed. Anthony Mockler's Graham Greene: Three Lives came out in 1994. The cover proclaimed: "Novelist! Explorer! Spy!", and the author's description of Greene on his deathbed was accordingly Boy's Own in tone: "Graham looked out of the antiseptic room over the sterile Swiss sky. No vultures gazed back . . ." (Clearly the shabby spell of Greeneland had exerted a spell.)
Shades of Greene is intended, partly, as a riposte to Greene's biographers, who have not "served him well", says Lewis. Sherry's Volume Three is dismissed as "ludicrously self-indulgent and self-obsessed", while Mockler is viewed as merely tiresome.
Shades of Greene, happily, offers a biography of the entire Greene family. Graham inevitably takes centre stage, yet he was not the only Greene to have led a colourfully eventful life. Equal weight is accorded to his numerous cousins, who were German on their mother's side; like the Darwins or the Huxleys, the Greenes together made a formidable dynasty, and Lewis chronicles their lives with humour, scholarship and sympathy.
Much of the ground has, of course, already been covered by Sherry. At Berkhamsted the schoolboy Graham was bullied and suicidally unhappy. His "sensible" older brother Raymond urged psychoanalysis, and in 1921 the future novelist was dispatched to Bayswater to see a Jungian therapist. In later years Raymond became an eminent physician as well as amateur mountaineer, who went out of his way to scale virgin ice-cliffs, conquering Everest in 1933. In a brilliant chapter, Lewis chronicles Raymond's pioneering work on pre-menstrual syndrome, which he insisted was a hormonal, not a hysterical condition, and for which he won the approval of the feminist movement.
Hugh, having been expelled from Nazi Germany in 1939, went on to become a quietly subversive director-general of the BBC. Under him, broadcasting saw a golden age of comedy (Steptoe and Son, Till Death Us Do Part), as well as controversy. Mary Whitehouse, outraged by Kenneth Tynan uttering the word "fuck" on public service television, saw Hugh as permissive society incarnate and complained to him of the line: "You've been a naughty girl, you let your knickers down" in the Beatles' film Magical Mystery Tour, which was broadcast on Boxing Day 1967. Finally exhausted by Whitehouse and her retinue, Hugh retired from the BBC the following year. He shared with his brother Graham an interest in Victorian crime fiction, and spent much of his retirement collecting penny-dreadfuls for his wonderful short-story anthology, The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes, published in 1970.
Of Greene's female cousins, Barbara Greene emerges as the most intriguing. Berkhamsted-educated, she was friendly with Baroness Moura Budberg, a Russo-Estonian exile living in London (and mistress, among others, of HG Wells). At his brother Hugh's wedding in October 1934, Greene had drunkenly persuaded Barbara to go with him on a trip to Liberia. Armed with a copy of Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, the man Evelyn Waugh nicknamed "Grisjambon Vert" (French for "grey ham green") set off with Barbara on a cargo boat from London. Journey Without Maps, his account of their west African adventure, ranks as one of the great travel books of the 20th century. Greene, perhaps more than anyone, helped to return the genre to the realm of literature, by conjuring an acute sense of place and shadowy menace. Unknown to him, Barbara had written her own reportage of Liberia: Land Benighted (reissued in 1981 as Too Late to Turn Back) is a masterpiece of comic observation and mock-heroic misadventure. Privately, Greene thought it superior to his own.
The Greene-Philby correspondence, as partially reproduced here, turns out to be rather anodyne, as talk is of Peter Wright's bestseller Spycatcher and the quantities of whisky consumed in Moscow during Greene's visit there in 1986. Greene had known Philby during the war, when he worked for him in British intelligence in West Africa, but whether he suspected his "dear Kim" of being a Soviet infiltrator before his unmasking in 1963 may never be known. With more than 30 novels to his name, Greene remains our most singular and prolific chronicler of wretchedness and damaged faith. The unsparing bleakness of his vision has influenced writers from John le Carré to Monica Ali. Shades of Greene, with its passages of vinegary humour and trenchant insight, provides a wonderfully compelling record of the author and his extended clan.
A Brace Of Greenes
“The Intellectuals Greenes”
Charles Raymond Greene
17.IV.1901 - 1982
Charles Raymond Greene was a Doctor of Medicine and mountaineer, brother of the novelist Graham Greene and the broadcaster Hugh Greene.
Raymond Greene was born in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, older brother of the novelist Graham Greene and BBC executive Hugh Greene, joined the 1933 expedition as senior doctor, chief intellect, and a competent mountaineer of gigantic physique.
Known by his second name, Raymond Greene qualified as a doctor in 1927. In 1931 he was part of the team which climbed Kamet, at the time, the highest mountain to have been climbed, and in 1933 he was the senior doctor on the fourth British expedition to Mount Everest led by Hugh Ruttledge, in 1953 when the mountain was finally climbed, it was Greene who made the announcement on the BBC. During World War II he worked as a doctor with SOE and as advisor to the armed forces on the effects of high altitude and cold on the human body. He went on to become an expert in the treatment of thyroid and other endocrine diseases, migraine and frostbite. He was credited with coining the term "pre-menstrual tension" and his research into the subject was apparently used in a criminal case by counsel defending a woman accused of murder. Between 1960 and 1980 he was chairman of Heinemann Medical Books. He was a fellow of the Royal Zoological Society and diagnosed and treated thyroid problems in Guy the gorilla at the London Zoo. He was also medical advisor to President Charles de Gaulle during his State Visit to England in 1960 and was awarded the Legion of Honour of France. His autobiography, Moments of Being, was published in 1974.
Henry Graham Greene OM, CH
2.X.1904 – 3.IV1991
“In human relationships, kindness and lies are worth a thousand truths.”
Henry Graham Greene, was an English author, playwright and literary critic. His works explore the ambivalent moral and political issues of the modern world. Greene was notable for his ability to combine serious literary acclaim with widespread popularity.
Although Greene objected strongly to being described as a Roman Catholic novelist rather than as a novelist who happened to be Catholic, Catholic religious themes are at the root of much of his writing, especially the four major Catholic novels: Brighton Rock, The Power and the Glory, The Heart of the Matter and The End of the Affair. Several works such as The Confidential Agent, The Third Man, The Quiet American, Our Man in Havana and The Human Factor also show an avid interest in the workings of international politics and espionage.
Greene suffered from bipolar disorder, which had a profound effect on his writing and personal life. In a letter to his wife Vivien he told her that he had "a character profoundly antagonistic to ordinary domestic life", and that "unfortunately, the disease is also one's material".
A stranger with no shortage of calling cards: devout Catholic, lifelong adulterer, pulpy hack, canonical novelist; self-destructive, meticulously disciplined, deliriously romantic, bitterly cynical; moral relativist, strict theologian, salon communist, closet monarchist; civilized to a stuffy fault and louche to drugged-out distraction, anti-imperialist crusader and postcolonial parasite, self-excoriating and self-aggrandizing, to name just a few.
Greene was born Henry Graham Greene in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, the fourth of six children. His younger brother, Hugh, became Director-General of the BBC, his elder brother, Raymond, an eminent physician and mountaineer.
His parents, Charles Henry Greene and Marion Raymond Greene, were first cousins, members of a large, influential family, that included the Greene King brewery owners, bankers, and businessmen. Charles Greene was Second Master at Berkhamsted School, the headmaster of which was Dr Thomas Fry, who was married to a cousin of Charles. Another cousin was the right-wing pacifist Ben Greene, whose politics led to his internment during World War II.
In 1910 Charles Greene succeeded Dr. Fry as headmaster. Graham attended the school. Bullied, and profoundly depressed as a boarder, he made several suicide attempts, some, as he claimed in his autobiography, by Russian roulette. In 1920 at age 16 he was psychoanalyzed for six months in London, afterwards returning to school as a day boy. School friends included Claud Cockburn the satirist, and Peter Quennell the historian.
In 1925, while an undergraduate at Balliol College, Oxford, his first work, a poorly received volume of poetry entitled Babbling April, was published.
After graduating with a second-class degree in history, Greene took up journalism, first on the Nottingham Journal, and then as a sub-editor on The Times. While in Nottingham he started corresponding with Vivien Dayrell-Browning, a Catholic convert, who had written to him to correct him on a point of Catholic doctrine. Greene converted to Catholicism in 1926, described in A Sort of Life when he was baptized in February of that year. He married Vivien in 1927; and they had two children, Lucy Caroline (b. 1933) and Francis (b. 1936). In 1948 Greene separated from Vivien. Although he had other relationships, he never divorced or remarried.
Greene's first published novel was The Man Within (1929). Favorable reception emboldened him to quit his sub-editor job at The Times and work as a full-time novelist. However, the next two books, The Name of Action (1930) and Rumor at Nightfall (1932), were unsuccessful; and he later disowned them. His first true success was Stamboul Train (1932), adapted as the film Orient Express (1934). Most of his novels would be so adapted.
He supplemented his novelist's income with freelance journalism, book and film reviews for The Spectator, and co-editing the magazine Night and Day, which folded in 1937. Greene's film review of Wee Willie Winkie, featuring nine-year-old Shirley Temple, cost the magazine a lost libel lawsuit. Greene's review stated that Temple displayed "a dubious coquetry" which appealed to "middle-aged men and clergymen". It is now considered one of the first criticisms of the sexualization of children for entertainment.
In 1973, Greene had an unaccredited cameo appearance as an insurance company representative in François Truffaut's film Day for Night. On the DVD of the movie, it was reported that Greene was a big admirer of Truffaut, and had always wanted to meet him, so as it turned out, when the small part came up where he actually talks to the director, he was delighted to have the opportunity. Truffaut was apparently unhappy not to have been told at the time that the actor playing the insurance company representative was Greene, as he would have liked to say hello, being an admirer of Greene's work.
Greene originally divided his fiction into two genres: thrillers (mystery and suspense books), such as The Ministry of Fear, which he described as entertainments, often with notable philosophic edges, and literary works, such as The Power and the Glory, which he described as novels, on which he thought his literary reputation was to be based.
As his career lengthened, both Greene and his readers found the distinction between entertainments and novels increasingly problematic. The last book Greene termed an entertainment was Our Man in Havana in 1958. When Travels with My Aunt was published eleven years later, many reviewers noted that Greene had designated it a novel, even though, as a work decidedly comic in tone, it appeared closer to his last two entertainments, Loser Takes All and Our Man in Havana, than to any of the novels. Greene, they speculated, seemed to have dropped the category of entertainment. This was soon confirmed. In the Collected Edition of Greene's works published in 22 volumes between 1970 and 1982, the distinction between novels and entertainments is no longer maintained. All are novels.
Greene also wrote short stories and plays, which were well-received, although he was always first and foremost a novelist. He collected the 1948 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for The Heart of the Matter.
Greene was awarded Britain's Order of Merit in 1986.
In 2009 The Strand Magazine began to publish in serial form a newly discovered Greene novel entitled The Empty Chair. The manuscript was written in longhand when Greene was 22 and newly converted to Catholicism.
Throughout his life Greene travelled far from England, to what he called the world's wild and remote places. The travels led to him being recruited into MI6 by his sister, Elisabeth, who worked for the organization; and he was posted to Sierra Leone during the Second World War. Kim Philby, who would later be revealed as a Soviet double agent, was Greene's supervisor and friend at MI6. As a novelist he wove the characters he met and the places where he lived into the fabric of his novels.
Greene first left Europe at thirty years of age in 1935 on a trip to Liberia that produced the travel book Journey Without Maps. His 1938 trip to Mexico, to see the effects of the government's campaign of forced anti-Catholic secularization, was paid for by Longman's, thanks to his friendship with Tom Burns. That voyage produced two books, the factual The Lawless Roads, published as Another Mexico in the U.S. and the novel The Power and the Glory. In 1953 the Holy Office informed Greene that The Power and the Glory was damaging to the reputation of the priesthood; but later, in a private audience with Greene, Pope Paul VI told him that, although parts of his novels would offend some Catholics, he should not pay attention to the criticism. Greene travelled to the Haiti of François Duvalier, alias "Papa Doc", where occurred the story of The Comedians, 1966. The owner of the Hotel Oloffson in Port-au-Prince, where Greene frequently stayed, named a room in his honor.
There is so much weariness and disappointment in travel that people have to open up — in railway trains, over a fire, on the decks of steamers, and in the palm courts of hotels on a rainy day. They have to pass the time somehow, and they can pass it only with themselves. Like the characters in Chekhov, they have no reserves — you learn the most intimate secrets. You get an impression of a world peopled by eccentrics, of odd professions, almost incredible stupidities, and, to balance them, amazing endurances.
After his apparently benign involvement in a financial scandal, Greene chose to leave Britain in 1966, moving to Antibes, to be close to Yvonne Cloetta, whom he had known since 1959, a relationship that endured until his death. In 1981 he was awarded the Jerusalem Prize, awarded to writers concerned with the freedom of the individual in society. One of his final works, the pamphlet J'Accuse — The Dark Side of Nice, concerns a legal matter embroiling him and his extended family in Nice. He declared that organized crime flourished in Nice, because the city's upper levels of civic government had protected judicial and police corruption. The accusation provoked a libel lawsuit that he lost. In 1994, after his death, he was vindicated, when the former mayor of Nice, Jacques Médecin, was imprisoned for corruption and associated crimes.
He lived the last years of his life in Vevey, on Lake Geneva, in Switzerland, the same town Charlie Chaplin was living in at this time. He visited Chaplin often, and the two were good friends. His book Doctor Fischer of Geneva or the Bomb Party (1980) bases its themes on combined philosophic and geographic influences. He had ceased going to mass and confession in the 1950s, but in his final years began to receive the sacraments again from Father Leopoldo Durán, a Spanish priest, who became a friend. He died at age 86 of a blood disease in 1991 and was buried in Corsier-sur-Vevey cemetery.
The literary style of Graham Greene was described by Evelyn Waugh in Commonweal as "not a specifically literary style at all. The words are functional, devoid of sensuous attraction, of ancestry, and of independent life". Commenting on this lean, realistic prose and its readability, Richard Jones wrote in the Virginia Quarterly Review that "nothing deflects Greene from the main business of holding the reader's attention." His cinematic visual sense led to most of his novels being made into films, such as Brighton Rock in 1947, The End of the Affair in 1955 and 1999, and The Quiet American in 1958 and 2002. He also wrote several original screenplays. In 1949, after writing the novella as "raw material", he wrote the screenplay for the classic film noir, The Third Man, featuring Orson Welles. In 1983 Greene's novel, The Honorary Consul, published ten years earlier, was made into a famous Hollywood movie, entitled Beyond the Limit in the U.S., featuring Michael Caine and Richard Gere. Michael Korda, the famous author and Hollywood script-writer, contributed the foreword and introduction to this novel in a commemorative edition. Greene concentrated on portraying the characters' internal lives – their mental, emotional, and spiritual depths. His stories often occurred in poor, hot, and dusty tropical backwaters, such as Mexico, West Africa, Vietnam, Cuba, Haiti, and Argentina, which led to the coining of the expression "Greeneland" to describe such settings.
His novels often have religious themes at the centre. In his literary criticism he attacked the modernist writers Virginia Woolf and E. M. Forster, for having lost the religious sense, which, he argued, resulted in dull, superficial characters, who "wandered about like cardboard symbols through a world that is paper-thin". Only in recovering the religious element, the awareness of the drama of the struggle in the soul carrying the infinite consequences of salvation and damnation, and of the ultimate metaphysical realities of good and evil, sin and divine grace, could the novel recover its dramatic power. Suffering and unhappiness are omnipresent in the world Greene depicts; and Catholicism is presented against a background of unvarying human evil, sin, and doubt. V. S. Pritchett praised Greene as the first English novelist since Henry James to present, and grapple with, the reality of evil.
The novels often powerfully portray the Christian drama of the struggles within the individual soul from the Catholic perspective. Greene was criticized for certain tendencies in an unorthodox direction — in the world, sin is omnipresent to the degree that the vigilant struggle to avoid sinful conduct is doomed to failure, hence not central to holiness. Friend and fellow Catholic Evelyn Waugh attacked that as a revival of the Quietist heresy. This aspect of his work also was criticized by the theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar, as giving sin a mystique.
Greene responded that constructing a vision of pure faith and goodness in the novel was beyond his talents. Praise of Greene from an orthodox Catholic point of view by Edward Short is in Crisis Magazine, and a mainstream Catholic critique is presented by Joseph Pearce.
Catholicism's prominence decreased in the later writings. The supernatural realities that haunted the earlier work declined and were replaced by a humanistic perspective, a change reflected in his public criticism of orthodox Catholic teaching. Left-wing political critiques assumed greater importance in his novels: for example, years before the Vietnam War, in The Quiet American he prophetically attacked the naive and counterproductive attitudes that were to characterize American policy in Vietnam. The tormented believers he portrayed were more likely to have faith in communism than in Catholicism.
In his later years Greene was a strong critic of American imperialism, and supported the Cuban leader Fidel Castro, whom he had met. For Greene and politics, see also Anthony Burgess' Politics in the Novels of Graham Greene. In Ways of Escape, reflecting on his Mexican trip, he complained that Mexico's government was insufficiently left-wing compared with Cuba's. In Greene's opinion, "Conservatism and Catholicism should be .... impossible bedfellows".
Despite his seriousness, Graham Greene greatly enjoyed parody, even of himself. In 1949, when the New Statesman held a contest for parodies of Greene's writing style, he submitted an entry under the pen name "N. Wilkinson" and won second prize. His entry comprised the first two paragraphs of a novel, apparently set in Italy, The Stranger's Hand: An Entertainment. Greene's friend, Mario Soldati, a Piedmontese novelist and film director, believed that it had the makings of a suspense film about Yugoslav spies in postwar Venice. Upon Soldati's prompting, Greene continued writing the story as the basis for a film script. Apparently, however, he lost interest in the project, leaving it as a substantial fragment that was published posthumously in The Graham Greene Film Reader (1993) and No Man's Land (2005). The script for The Stranger's Hand was penned by veteran screenwriter Guy Elmes on the basis of Greene's unfinished story, and cinematically rendered by Soldati. In 1965 Greene again entered a similar New Statesman competition pseudonymously, and won an honorable mention.
Sir Hugh Carleton Greene KCMG, OBE
5.XI.1910 – 19.II.1987
Hugh Greene was a British journalist and television executive. He was the Director-General of the BBC from 1960 to 1969, and is generally credited with modernizing an organization that had fallen behind in the wake of the launch of ITV in 1955.
Hugh was born in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, one of the four sons and two daughters of Charles Henry Greene, the then Headmaster of Berkhamsted School. He was the brother of the famous writer Graham Greene and Raymond Greene, a distinguished physician and Everest mountaineer. The eldest brother, Herbert Greene, was a relatively little-known poet perhaps best remembered for leading a march at BBC Broadcasting House in protest against one of his brother's actions as Director-General.
After education at Berkhamsted School and Merton College, Oxford, Greene came to prominence as a journalist in 1934 when he became the chief correspondent in Nazi Berlin for the Daily Telegraph newspaper. He and several other British journalists were expelled from Berlin as an act of reprisal for the removal of a Nazi propagandist in England. Greene, however, went on to report from Warsaw on the opening events of the Second World War and continued to follow its progress through the early stages. He served briefly with the Royal Air Force in 1940 as an interrogator, but was encouraged by the military authorities to join the BBC later that year.
Greene entered the BBC as head of the German Service at the age of 29. He made significant improvements to their transmissions following a risky flight in a De Havilland Mosquito aircraft over occupied Norway to study the effects of Nazi radio jamming. He also presented news and discussion programs and became fairly well-known in Europe for this role. From 1941, Greene also helped to smooth the relationship between the BBC and the Political Warfare Executive (PWE) whose goals were somewhat at odds the BBC strove for accurate, unbiased journalism whereas the PWE was largely concerned with propaganda.
Following the war, Greene helped with the rebuilding of German broadcasting infrastructure in the British Occupied Zone. As the Cold War got underway, he was given the task of leading the BBC's East European service and later produced propaganda for the British Army in Malaya during the Communist uprising of 1947.
Greene returned to the BBC in the 1950s where his reputation and ability caught the attention of Director-General Sir Ian Jacob. It was probably during this period that he began using his middle name, Carleton, presumably to distinguish him from the popular ITV presenter Hughie Green. He started as Director of Administration but in 1958 he swapped jobs with the unpopular Tahu Hole to become Director of News and Current Affairs. He succeeded Jacob as Director-General two years later in 1960. Mere days after his promotion, Greene made arrangements for Hole to receive a golden handshake to persuade him into early retirement. Indeed, according to one of his biographers, Greene thought one of his greatest contributions to broadcasting was the restoration of order to Hole's austere news department which had come to be known as the Kremlin of the BBC. It later materialized that Hole had leaked a secret BBC document to the competing Independent Television Authority (ITA) in which concerns were voiced about the financial interests of newspapers in ITV companies. Greene learned of the leak from a displeased Ivone Kirkpatrick, then chairman of the ITA. Kirkpatrick had previously been a member of the Political War Executive, Head of the BBC's wartime European Services and High Commissioner of the British Occupied Zone in Germany and had worked with Greene many times before. The leak would have led to Hole's immediate dismissal but actually it was only detected shortly after his retirement.
Greene kept the BBC in pace with the major social changes in Britain in the 1960s, and through such series as Steptoe and Son, Z Cars and That Was The Week That Was, he moved the corporation away from Reithian middle-class values and deference to traditional authority and power. Controversial, socially concerned dramas such as Up the Junction and Cathy Come Home were broadcast as part of The Wednesday Play strand, which also gave Dennis Potter his breakthrough as a dramatist with, among other works, the "Nigel Barton" plays. As a result of Greene's breaking down of Reithian cultural mores, the BBC also greatly increased its standing as a broadcaster of pure light entertainment, proving that it could achieve ratings in the main-stream, populist market comparable to those achieved by ITV. Hugh Greene also strongly resisted pressure from the 'clean-up TV' campaigner Mary Whitehouse, a policy not always followed by future directors-general.
The tone of BBC radio overall changed less radically in the Hugh Greene era than that of BBC television, with full reforms of the networks not coming until 1970, by which time Sir Charles Curran was Director-General. However it was in 1967, under Greene's directorship, that the corporation embraced pop radio for the first time with Radio 1, taking most of its DJs and music policy from off-shore radio on the notorious pirate ships, which had just been banned by the government.
Greene's undoing followed the appointment of the former Conservative minister Lord Hill as chairman of the BBC governors from September 1, 1967, by Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson, who had criticized Hill's appointment as chairman of the Independent Television Authority by a Conservative government in 1963. A more cautious and conservative atmosphere then took hold in the corporation, typified by the axing (until 1972) of Till Death Us Do Part, one of the series most despised by Mary Whitehouse, but conversely one of its most popular in the ratings. In July 1968 the BBC issued the document Broadcasting In The Public Mood without Greene's significant involvement, seeming to question the continued broadcasting of the more provocative and controversial material one of Greene's allies at the top level of the corporation described this document as "emasculated and philistine" and in October 1968 Greene announced that he would be retiring as Director-General. He was succeeded the next year by the more conservative Sir Charles Curran. This move was welcomed by a great many MPs, Governors of the BBC, Churchmen and Whitehouse's National Viewers and Listeners Association, as Greene was regarded, by the conservative minded, as a man of low moral fiber and as the person responsible for the increasing volume of sex and violence on television.
Echoes of the removal of Hugh Greene could be heard in the departure in 2004 of Director-General Greg Dyke in the wake of the Hutton Inquiry.
Hugh Greene then became one of the BBC governors, a position he held until 1971. He has remained a divisive figure in what have been called the British "culture wars" after the American term for the liberal-conservative divide in US society; he has frequently been attacked by those of a conservative bent, especially the writer Peter Hitchens, for his part in the erosion of, what they see as, a better Britain. But he has been praised by some of liberal and Leftish leanings for opening up an, as they claim, ossifying institution, and creating a more tolerant and open-minded society. The fact remains that one's opinion of Sir Hugh Carleton Greene can depend entirely on one's opinion of the social changes—less deference to traditional authority and the traditional establishment—that are most frequently associated with the 1960s. Sir Hugh Greene's influence on British society—both on those who approve of what he stood for and on those who despise it, remains, as does the influence of those social changes more generally. Recently, in the wake of the Hutton Report, there has been some further debate about the relationship between the government, the Establishment and the BBC.
Beyond his broadcasting and journalistic work, Greene was also known for his appreciation of beer and eventually became a director of the Greene King Brewery, originally established by his great-grandfather, Benjamin Greene, in 1799. He also once bested his famous brother Graham in a writing contest to parody the novelist's writing style in the New Statesman.
Sir Hugh Greene was knighted in 1964. He was married four times: to Helga Guinness, Elaine Shaplen, Tatjana Sais and Sarah Grahame. He had two sons by each of the first two marriages.
He died in Westminster, London, of cancer aged 76.
“The Rich Greenes”
28.XII.1901 – X.1978
Ben Greene was a British Labour Party politician and pacifist. He was interned during World War II because of his fascist associations and appealed his detention to the House of Lords. In the leading case of Liversidge v. Anderson, the House famously declined to interfere with ministerial discretion on matters of national security and refused to review his detention.
Though born in Brazil and with a mother had been born a German national, Greene's family came to England in 1908. He attended Berkhamsted School where his uncle, Charles Greene, was head teacher and where his cousins, Graham Greene and Hugh Greene, also attended. He attended Wadham College, Oxford, but became committed to the causes of the Labour Party and the Society of Friends (Quakers) and left without graduating. Until 1923 he worked with the Society of Friends, the Save the Children Fund and the American Relief Administration in humanitarian work in Eastern Europe.
Greene was motivated to get involved in politics almost solely by his belief in pacifism. He returned to London to work for Clement Attlee in the Limehouse constituency for the United Kingdom general election, 1923, where he met John Beckett. In 1924, Greene joined the Independent Labour Party (ILP) and soon became liaison with Ramsay MacDonald. He fought Basingstoke in the United Kingdom general election, 1924 but without success. He often felt that Labour Party policies were at odds with his pacifism.
He married in 1925 and became a businessman, in England and abroad, serving on Berkhamsted Urban District Council and on Hertfordshire County Council, becoming a Justice of the Peace (JP) in 1937. He unsuccessfully contested Gravesend against Irving Albery in 1931 and 1935. He also continued with human rights work in the Saar and Germany. However, by 1938 he had become disillusioned with the Labour Party, perceiving it as in the grip of communists, and he resigned.
Shocked by conditions in Germany, Greene formed the idea that Britain should co-operate with National Socialist officials in order to facilitate the emigration of as many threatened Germans as possible. However, he fell under the influence of National Socialist Ernst Wilhelm Bohle who was all too ready to exploit his naivety. Greene now joined the Peace Pledge Union and started to publish the Peace and Progress Information Service (PPIS) with information provided by Bohle. He networked with anyone who was opposed to war, including fascists, even joining the British Peoples Party (BPP) as treasurer.
In December 1939, once World War II had started, Greene ghosted The Truth About the War for the BPP. Attlee saw a copy and was shocked at its "pro-Hitler" tone and claims that the Poles had been the authors of their own misfortune, exonerating Hitler. Greene was a frequent speaker at anti-war meetings and spoke of the "danger of Jewish and American capitalists".
In early 1940, Lord Hampden, in his capacity as Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, approached Maxwell Knight of MI5 on Greene's continued suitability as a JP. Knight felt that he had no evidence on which to remove Greene. At the same time, Vernon Kell was calling for action against the BPP, in particular for Greene and Beckett's internment under Defense Regulation 18B.
The order to detain Greene, for "hostile associations" was signed on May 22, 1940 and Greene was arrested on May 24th. The Reasons for Order cited Greene's membership of the BPP and BCCSE and the content of his speeches, his association with Beckett, and his communications with the German government. It also alleged that he desired to establish a National Socialist regime with the assistance of the German army and harbored German agents. The more specific Statement of Case revealed that the latter allegations had been made by Harold Kurtz.
Kurtz was an MI5 agent who posed as a National Socialist German agent recently released from internment in Britain. Kurtz entrapped Greene with another MI5 agent, Gaertner, as witness and alleged that Greene had helped him avoid further internment and clandestinely communicate with Germany, and had told him ways of leaving the country undetected. Kurtz also claimed that Greene had told him that there were "men in this country ready to take over the government after a German victory, men trained in and filled with the proper spirit of National Socialism—a British National Socialism".
Greene denied these serious allegations, claiming that he had reported Kurtz's suspicious behavior to the police. The police denied Greene's defense and there is evidence that Maxwell Knight had coached the police into lying.
Greene challenged his detention at the Advisory Committee headed by A. T. Miller on 24 July. Though the committee was anxious to hear from the MI5 agents, MI5 refused to allow them to attend, and the committee accepted the agents' statements as "substantially accurate". Greene's detention was confirmed.
The Lord Chancellor's Department was advised and Greene was informed on October 10th of the intention to remove him as a JP and offering him the face-saving alternative of resignation. Greene was removed as a JP on November 8th.
Greene's brother Edmund sought legal advice from Oswald Hickson who had been active in internment cases, from a liberal rather than a fascist motive. Hickson wrote to the Advisory Committee to protest that the Reasons for Order gave no particulars of persons making the allegations. The committee spurned Hickson's approach so he applied for a writ of habeas corpus. The application was heard by the Divisional Court on May 21, 1941 and Greene represented himself. The Home Office was nervous. Greene was well-known in political circles and the allegations were serious, a rash of habeas corpus applications from other internees would be unwelcome, and there were dangers that MI5 agents could become compromised.
The court dismissed Greene's application, confident that so articulate and well-connected an internee could not have been prejudiced by the procedure. They were, however, unhappy with technical errors in the drafting of the detention order and criticized the Home Secretary, suggesting a rehearing.
Greene appealed to the Court of Appeal while the Home Office reissued the order and Reasons, now naming Kurtz and Gaertner, confirming Hickson's suspicions.
The appeal was heard by Lords Justice of Appeal Scott, MacKinnon and Goddard on the 15th to 16th of July. They rejected the appeal on July 30th. Scott delivered the judgment of the court. The court was not able to question the discretion of the Home Secretary, honestly exercised.
Greene appealed to the House of Lords and his case was joined with that of fellow appellant detainee Robert Liversidge. The case was heard as Liversidge v. Anderson and the decision of the Court of Appeal upheld on November 3rd.
In the mean time, Greene's brother Edmund and Hickson had succeeded in turning the tables on Kurtz and discrediting his evidence, though too late for the House of Lords.
A second hearing by the Advisory Committee was convened in November. They now rejected Kurtz's allegations as discredited, and accepted Greene's undertaking not to hinder the war effort and to avoid Beckett and Hastings Russell, 12th Duke of Bedford. Greene's detention order was revoked on 9 January 1942.
Greene sued in damages for libel and for false imprisonment. The case was hopeless. The purported libel was that in the Reasons for Order which was protected by privilege and whose author was in any case unknown. To succeed for false imprisonment, Greene would have to prove that the Home Secretary made the detention order with no honest belief in the facts stated therein.
Hickson withdrew the action before the final judgment and costs of GBP 1,243 were awarded against Greene. Though proceedings were started to bankrupt Greene, these were never brought to court.
Greene continued to be involved in right-wing politics. He left the BPP to form the English Nationalist Association, his political ideas becoming, according to A. W. B. Simpson, increasingly fanciful.
Felix Greene was a British-American journalist who chronicled several Communist countries in the 1960s and 1970s.
He was one of the first Western reporters to visit North Vietnam when he traveled there for the San Francisco Chronicle in the 1960's. Some of his material has been reproduced for A-Level history, within the Vietnam War topic.
Born in England, Greene first visited China for the BBC in 1957. He later produced documentary films, including One Man's China, Tibet, Cuba va!,, Vietnam! Vietnam! and Inside North Viet Nam. These films give a very rosy and one-sided view of the communist society. He can be seen as a Fellow traveler.
In the 1970s, Felix Greene came to in Dharamsala to visit the 14th Dalai Lama who recalls that after 3 days of discussion, Greene’s attitude had changed.
Greene was a cousin of the author Graham Greene. He lived in the San Francisco area for twenty years. He died in Mexico of cancer in 1985.
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