Biographer reveals Graham Greene's life with bear necessity: New book tells of the confused sexuality and secret companion of literary legend. David Lister reports

GRAHAM GREENE, novelist, spy, adventurer and seducer, never travelled anywhere without his teddy bear.

When he was in his sixties he wrote letters to a close friend about brown, bow-tied 'Ted', praising the cuddly soft toy for its endurance in travelling the globe. The picture published exclusively here was taken by Greene in 1963. It is of Ted sitting in a Havana hotel room, accompanied by the caption 'Our Ted In Havana', which Greene wrote in a letter to the friend.

Greene's lifelong affection for Ted is revealed in the new biography, Graham Greene; The Man Within, published today by Heinemann and written by the American academic Michael Shelden. It is part of the detailed picture Shelden builds up of Greene's insecurity and struggles with his sexuality.

The book, which draws on private correspondence as well as previously secret information from MI6, deals at length with Greene's flirtation with homosexuality, always fiercely denied by the novelist, pointing to numerous references in his books and particularly his late plays, which all deal with homosexuality but have been curiously ignored. Shelden, professor of English at Indiana State University - whose biography of Orwell in 1991 was shortlisted for the Pulitzer prize - also interviews people on the island of Capri where Greene had a holiday villa. The biography claims that Greene regularly entertained Italian youths at the villa.

Leaks about the Greene biography have all dwelt on the Roman Catholic writer's affair with Catherine Walston, the American wife of a Labour peer and inspiration for his novel The End Of The Affair, and with claims of daring sexual practices including making love behind high altars in Italy.

But it is Shelden's discoveries about Greene's private struggles with his sexuality which may have as much to say about the author of celebrated novels including Brighton Rock, Our Man In Havana and The Human Factor.

Shelden discovered Greene's obsession with his teddy bear by accident. The name Ted cropped up repeatedly in letters from Greene to his close friend Alexander Frere, the chairman of Heinemann. Frere's widow gave Shelden access to these letters. In one from Israel about the time of the Six- Day War in 1967, Greene tells how shelling broke out and he dived for cover: 'I grabbed Ted, threw him to the ground and hugged him close to me.'

'I thought, 'what is going on?' ' Shelden says now. 'I asked Mrs Frere and she showed me the picture of Ted in Havana, and Ted has got a pretty blue collar around him and he's a teddy bear. So here's this tough Graham Greene, this dashing spy in one of the hotspots of the world, and the whole time no one knows he is carrying round a pretty teddy bear.'

Frere also had a teddy bear and in 1963 when Greene was 60 he wrote this note to Frere, entitled Our Ted In Havana: 'Hope the Teds meet soon. Mine has now been in 7 countries in 8 weeks and feels confused, France, England, Jamaica, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, San Domingo.' The discovery of the teddy bear unlocks a number of references in Greene's work. In his 1930 story The Bear Fell Free, the hero, Querry, tells a priest that all his prayers are 'for a brown teddy bear'.

Shelden says: 'The teddy bear was one of his deep, dark secrets. He was afraid of being called effeminate. Betjeman of the same Oxford generation flaunted his teddy bear and became a model for Sebastian in Brideshead Revisited. But Greene's image was of a man's man, though this was simply another cover and perhaps his most convincing one.'

Shelden says: 'Homosexuality is pervasive in his work, but it has not been remarked upon. As opposed to his novels, his plays have been very little commented upon. But For Whom The Bell Chimes is a parody of Hemingway-style tough masculinity, even down to the title with its tinkling sound. That play is about a transsexual and a homosexual who are in love. Yes And No is about the seduction of a young man by an older homosexual. Both these plays appeared in the 1980s but were rarely performed. It was Greene's way of coming out of the closet.

'It's in no way a scandalous revelation, but it's interesting that Greene was so strident in his denials of it. I went down to his villa in Capri and I found people who were quite willing to say that Greene had been involved with young men from Italy. The postman in the village recalls that young Italian boys were often there.

'But I think Greene enjoyed talking about homosexuality rather than doing it. He was drawn to it, he was fascinated by it and then denied it.'

Shelden concludes: 'What all this adds up to is a man deeply insecure about his sexuality and childish in his approach to sexuality. For me, the teddy bear is one of the few pieces of solid evidence that reveal how ridiculously insecure he was about his masculinity.'

Graham Greene: The Man Within; Michael Shelden; Heinemann; pounds 20.

(Photograph omitted)

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
News
i100
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

Commercial Litigation NQ+

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE NQ to MID LEVEL - An e...

MANCHESTER - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION -

Highly Attractive Pakage: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - A highly attractive oppor...

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

Day In a Page

Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?