|Son of a leather salesman and a schoolteacher, Theroux is one of six children. He began writing at the age of 14. After high school, he attended the University of Maine and the University of Massachusetts (B.A., 1963), then began graduate school at Syracuse University but dropped out to join the Peace Corps. He taught English in Malawi until he was deported for his (unwitting) involvement in a plot to assassinate the head of the government. He then taught in Uganda until 1968, and in Singapore until 1971. By then, he had published five novels, and he gave up teaching to write. He married and lived in England, but after his divorce he began to live part of the time in the U.S. Much of his fiction is set in the places where he has lived, and deals with the situation of an American expatriate. It was not until the publication of his best-selling travel book, THE GREAT RAILWAY BAZAAR, that Theroux became a popular writer.
|Greene was one of six children, the son of the headmaster of a boys' school, and a cousin of Robert Louis Stevenson. A shy, unhappy child, he made several suicide attempts. After attending Oxford (where he made a specialty of Russian roulette), in 1927 he married Vivien Dayrell-Browning, a Catholic--an act that enraged his family. The estrangement became even worse when Greene himself converted to Catholicism. He and his wife--to whom Greene was chronically unfaithful--had a son and a daughter, and later separated. Greene began his writing career as a journalist, but in 1929, his first novel, THE MAN WITHIN, was published, and thereafter he made his living as a writer--at first with difficulty, later with considerable success. Greene classified his fiction as either serious novels or "entertainments," in which he begins with the conventions of genre fiction but invariably lifts them into the realm of literature by the power of his writing. (BRIGHTON ROCK is only one of many examples.) A large percentage of his works also explore the Catholic themes of sin and redemption. Greene was an intelligence agent in World War II, which gave him material for some of his best spy novels. He wrote in nearly every literary genre, and more than 20 of his works have been made into movies including THE QUIET AMERICAN in 1958 (a film Greene loathed for its falsely happy ending and excision of the novel's strongly anti-American sentiments) and again in 2002 (a critically acclaimed film that restored Greene's themes); he also wrote screenplays and film reviews. Greene lived to be 86, and continued to write until nearly the end of his life.