Greene papers for sale: dossier on a perfect spy

The most important private archive of works relating to the author Graham Greene is to go up for auction in what will be one of the biggest literary sales of the year.

Expected to raise more than pounds 250,000, the sale encompasses the novelist's entire career, from contributions to his school magazine in 1922 to the unfinished novel he gave away weeks before his death in 1991.

Formed by the American real-estate dealer Clinton Ives Smullyan Jr, the archive is of special interest because it covers so many aspects of Greene's life: from his miserable schooldays as the headmaster's son at Berkhamsted, to his time at Oxford - where he got a taste for Russian Roulette - and his work as a spy for MI6 in the Second World War.

He began spying under the command of the double agent Kim Philby, who later defected to the Soviet Union. Greene was put in charge of the writer and television personality Malcolm Muggeridge.

His biographer Norman Sherry observed: "By nature he was the perfect spy; he was an intensely secretive man."

The theme of betrayal and espionage, beginning with his early betrayal of a schoolmate to his father, and reinforced by the work for MI6, fascinated Greene, who was frequently unfaithful to his wife Vivien before, without warning, he left her.

Included in the sale at Sotheby's on 16 December is Greene's annotated copy of Andrew Boyle's The Climate of Treason (which is expected to fetch up to pounds 1,500). Greene's notes reveal his opposition to the view of Philby as an amoral traitor.

At one point, the book quotes Muggeridge as saying that Philby admired Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, and wanted to work for him. "Nonsense." Greene wrote crossly in the margin. "Typical of MM."

Later, Boyle wrote of the "treacherous lengths to which the Soviet Union and its hidden accomplices [are] prepared to go". "How can one apply morality in these realms?" Greene scribbled.

As a student at Oxford, the novelist was briefly a member of the British Communist Party, which caused him problems getting US visas and resulted in the FBI opening a file on him.

While writing an article for The Spectator, Greene applied for the release of their documents under the Freedom of Information Act. He was sent a heavily censored set of photocopies which are estimated to fetch up to pounds 4,500.

Another important lot is Greene's proof copy of the novel many consider his masterpiece, The End of the Affair. Estimated at up to pounds 9,000, it contains both Greene's corrections - in blue ink - and those of Evelyn Waugh, in red. Greene asked his fellow writer for comments when he realised the sensation that his story about a wartime love affair might cause.

The copy reveals that Waugh, whose writing was also bound up with Catholicism, was cautious about some of Greene's allusions. He queries a number of passages including the comparison of a man to an "abortion".

A series of letters from Greene to his great protege, the novelist R K Narayan, is also up for sale, as is Greene's proof copy of The Heart of the Matter - littered with his corrections - and his annotated script of The Third Man, the film which starred Orson Welles.

"One of the nicest things about the sale," said Peter Selley, the specialist in charge of the auction, "is that it includes books with inscriptions from Graham to the great love of his life, Catherine Walston, his first mistress, Dorothy Glover - one of which says `from Graham Greene the bastard' - and to his wife, Vivien, who brought up their children."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Software Tester

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Software Tester is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Developer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: The Company sells mobile video advertising sol...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have a vacancy within our ra...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - 1st Line Helpdesk - West London - £25,000

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - 1st Line Helpde...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project