Graham Greene: The Wandering Writer

3 min read

Graham Greene, born in 1904, was an English writer and journalist. Having achieved success early in his career, he rose through the ranks to become a leading 20th Century novelist.

Greene travelled widely in his lifetime, venturing to remote parts of the world to conduct research for journalist articles and novels. His works often discuss complex moral issues, intertwined with a fiery thread of adventure.

The Influence of Travel:

Greene led an unusual and complex life. Following a disturbed education, he began writing books and published his first collection of poetry in 1925.

His conversion to Catholicism in 1927, following his marriage to Vivien Dayrell-Browning, influenced the religious nature of his works. His explorations of deteriorating faith and the exploitation of global power clearly mark out this moral terrain.

Greene’s other favoured genre, thriller or ‘entertainment’, was also influenced by personal experiences. Having worked for MI6 during World War Two, he had a backlog of intelligence information and travelling memories which he used to inspire new novels.

His penchant for travelling extended long after the war. He usually ventured to politically uncertain and dangerous countries, searching for literary inspiration. His passion for travel and exploration seeps into the fabric of his novels, blending English charm with the exotic allure of far off places.


Stamboul Train (1932)

Thrust together on a journey from Ostend to Istanbul, the lives of several strangers become closely intertwined. Travelling on the Orient Express, there is nowhere to hide as they find themselves surrounded by deceit, murder, and uneasy politics. Greene’s self-conscious writing blends social commentary with ‘entertainment’, creating for his characters a sealed and strangely haunting world. 

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The Lawless Roads (1939)

lawless roads graham greene writer classic writer

The Lawless Roads offers Greene’s eyewitness record of Mexico’s anticlerical purges during the 1930s. Commissioned to investigate political and religious persecution, he travelled across the states of Chiapas and Tabasco to observe the effects of conflict. His vivid prose intimately involves the reader in his experiences, weaving a spellbinding tale that later inspired The Power and the Glory.

Discover this work and more in our 10-Book Graham Greene Collection.



A Burnt Out Case (1960)

graham greene a burnt out case vintage book English novelist

Set in the Congo, this novel explores life within a leper colony. The story follows protagonist Querry, a famous but disillusioned architect who finds a sense of contentment amongst the lepers. Greene uses his novel to explore the degeneration of religion, whilst also observing the related subjects of politics and human suffering. The story creates a sense of impermanence whilst also offering redemption.

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The Comedians (1966)

graham greene the comedians vintage books first edition

The Comedians brings an atmosphere fraught with fear, violence, and repression. Taking place in Haiti during the rule of president Francois Duvalier, it explores political instability under totalitarian rule. Led by three male characters who meet on a voyage to Haiti, the story explores their experiences and reactions to the rising political violence. The imperfect characters and crisp dialogue provide a realistic insight into a dangerous world.

 Buy a beautiful first edition of The Comedians (1966)




Monsignor Quixote (1982)

monsignor quixote graham greene vintage book

One of Greene’s later works, this novel is both thought-provoking and humorous at times. It offers a lighter variation of the Spanish classic, Don Quixote, while still exploring moral and theological themes. At its heart is a Spanish priest and his friend, Sancho, both journeying to Madrid on a quasi-pilgrimage. Greene easily brings the novel to life with his vibrant scenes, unique characters, and richly profound themes.

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Why do Greene’s works endure?

 Graham Greene’s work encourages readers to think about complex issues while enjoying fascinating plots. His writing takes readers on exciting journeys across the globe, accompanied by carefully calculated and intriguing characters.

Greene’s novels display the fruits of an enviable imagination that seemingly has no limits. His crisp but profound observations of humanity and the world have enticed readers for decades. With stories that challenge and delight, he makes readers see themselves and the world in a new light. His novels understand and respect the intelligence of his readers, making them a part of every story.

 Greene wrote about a world in which we all still live, one that is tainted by human imperfection. His novels offer a sense of escapism while reminding readers of serious subjects. It is this masterful ability to appeal to the physical senses and to the intellect that makes his writing endure.  

Explore our full collection of Graham Greene works.

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