Unfinished Greene mystery found by French academic

Lost murder mystery to be published by magazine, but still needs an ending

It was a gem of a find, a long-lost unfinished murder mystery tale containing the classic ingredients of a country house, a dead body, bloodied weapon and a cast of upper-class suspects. It was also handwritten in Graham Greene's distinctive scrawl and included the Catholic themes that were hallmarks of much of his work.

Just one problem: the novel didn't have an ending.

This manuscript of a five-chapter-long crime thriller, titled The Empty Chair and written by Greene in 1926, was discovered in the vaults of a Texas University archive last year.

The unfinished story was one of Greene's earliest attempts at writing fiction, penned when he was 22 and abandoned decades before he went on to craft Brighton Rock and The Quiet American.

But it will soon be possible to read the story for the first time in the American literary journal The Strand Magazine, which first published Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories and whose contributors have included PG Wodehouse, HG Wells, Agatha Christie and Rudyard Kipling.

The Empty Chair will be serialised over the next five editions of the quarterly crime publication. Its editors intend to launch a competition inviting readers to write an ending to the story – and they may also enlist a professional writer for the task.

The novel opens with Alice Lady Perriham, an actress married into the aristocracy who was "exquisitely conscious of looking no more than 35". She hosts a house party.

Her guests discover the body of Richard Groves, described as "a dark, surly, underhand brute" with a knife plunged into his chest.

"It's a sort of traditional country house murder mystery and has all of the ingredients of a traditional whodunit," said Andrew Gulli, the managing editor of The Strand Magazine. "But in the case of The Empty Chair, Greene manages to combine many of the great characteristics of his work, seamless prose, tight dialogue, and we have characters speaking about some of the themes that Greene was famous for such as discussions about good and evil.

"Although he wrote it when he was 22, it's clearly a work by Greene, the work of a mature writer." There is an obligatory priest.

On the subject of the new endings, Mr Gulli said: "Whatever happens, we want to make sure the estate of Graham Greene is happy. If they are interested in finding an author [to finish it] that would be great, if they are interested in a readers' contest, that is also great."

In the same year he wrote The Empty Chair, Greene converted to Catholicism and started working on a trial basis as a sub-editor at a London newspaper. He soon decided he would try to forge a career as a successful novelist.

The text was discovered by a French academic, Francois Gallix, who was immersed in a research topic called "Graham Greene New Perspectives" when he stumbled across the story and transcribed the 22,000 handwritten words.

Other manuscripts to have lain hidden in archives for decades before being discovered include works by Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, Vladimir Nabokov, William Styron, Mary Shelley and JRR Tolkien.

Arts and Entertainment

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade

radio
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?