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Graham Greene

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Graham Greene

by Bill Brandt
bromide print, 1948
13 1/2 in. x 11 1/2 in. (342 mm x 291 mm)
Purchased, 1982
Photographs Collection
NPG x22429

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Bill Brandt (1904-1983), Photographer. Artist of 120 portraits, Sitter in 34 portraits.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Rogers, Malcolm, Camera Portraits, 1989 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 20 October 1989 - 21 January 1990), p. 251 Read entry

    The novelist Graham Greene, who was awarded the Order of Merit in 1986, sees his work as divided into two distinct streams: the serious novels, works of moral and reli-gious enquiry, such as Brighton Rock (1938), The Power and the Glory (1940), and The Heart of the Matter (1948), and 'entertainments', fast-moving psychological thrillers including Stamboul Train (1932), A Gun for Sale (1936), The Confidential Agent (1939), The Third Man (1950), and, in lighter vein, Our Man in Havana (1958). To his readers the distinction is less material, for both styles of work are recognizably facets of the same personality. As a youth Greene habitually played Russian roulette; later on he was converted to Roman Catholicism, and his whole œuvre seems to constitute a meditation on the meaning and purpose of life in a mind which is both intensely religious and profoundly sceptical.

    Greene was photographed by Brandt at about the time of the publication of The Heart of the Matter, in which the central character, the well-meaning, ineffectual colonial administrator (and Roman Catholic) Major Scobie destroys himself. The act itself is violent and apparently meaningless, but Greene draws from it a profound spiritual truth. The photograph shows the author, against a background of skylights, in his flat in St James's, London. Brandt, working in his later analytical manner, draws from the architecture of this most sociable area of London - the home of so many gentlemen's clubs - a more anguished landscape of the mind. The photograph was first published in Lilliput in November 1949, and later in Harper's Bazaar in March 1950.

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Current affairs

Prince Charles is born in Buckingham Palace; he is the first son of Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh
The Secretary of State for Health, Aneurin Bevan, introduces the National Health Service. Health services in Britain were now funded from central taxation and free at the point of use for every resident of the country.

Art and science

The First Morris Minor car designed by Alec Issigonis and his team (also responsible for the Mini) takes to the road, becoming a popular and classic English design.
F.R. Leavis publishes his influential study of the English novel, The Great Tradition. The book set out Leavis's ideas on the proper relationship between literary form and moral concern.


The policy of Apartheid is adopted in South Africa. Apartheid was a set of laws allowing racial segregation and discrimination against the black majority by the white ruling class.
As part of the dispute between Western and Soviet controlled Berlin, the Soviet Union blockades West Berlin, cutting off supplies. Anxious to avoid a conflict, America, Britain and France responded by flying in food and other provisions.

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