(1888 - 1959)
“not .. escape literature, but .. works of art”.

Raymond Thornton Chandler had a somewhat peripatetic early life: he was born in Chicago, but spent much of his childhood and early adulthood moving between the USA, Canada, England, and, for a short while, the trenches in France during WW1.  This lack of stability seems to be reflected in his professional life as he undertook a variety of jobs, none of which was particularly successful.  By the time he was 40 he decided to take up writing as a career, choosing the path of pulp fiction as an apparently easy option. He studied the stories of Erle Stanley Gardner and applied his classical education (gained at Dulwich College, London) to the task of creating a splendidly rich vernacular for his characters.  With his delight in style and language he raised the genre of crime fiction to that of literature, much admired by such literary luminaries as W.H. Auden.  He published a number of short stories for magazines, but his first novel The Big Sleep, published in 1939, marked the arrival of his most recognised character, the private detective Philip Marlowe, who over the next 20 years and 8 novels became a landmark figure in crime fiction, whose laconic style has been played in numerous films, most famously by Humphrey Bogart.

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