Berkhamsted gears up for annual celebration of literary great Grahame Greene

Graham Greene
Graham Greene

A four-day festival to mark the birthday of celebrated novelist Graham Greene gets under way in Berkhamsted on Thursday – and it’s expected to attract fans from across the globe.

Greene penned much-loved greats Brighton Rock, The Third Man and The Human Factor and wrote many other well-regarded works in his 86 years.

Festival trustee David Pearce said: “Greene was the great novelist of the 20th century. His novels always say something important.

“They are sinewy, muscular and have got ideas and are about things that matter to him personally, so we can see Greene coming out in his stories.”

Greene was born in a boarding house of Berkhamsted School, where his father Charles was a housemaster, on October 2, 1904.

He later became a boarder at the school and his father became headmaster in 2010.

But his son was bullied, became profoundly depressed and attempted suicide several times.

Mr Pearce said: “Berkhamsted is the place where it all started. Graham was such an international writer – so important.

“Over the world, the extraordinary thing is Graham is more read abroad perhaps than in England.”

The festival is now in its 16th year and is organised by the Graham Greene Birthplace Trust, which promotes the study and appreciation of Greene’s books.

It attracts Greene fans to Berkhamsted from across the globe.

Mr Pearce said: “They come to see the town where Graham grew up, the town he always thought about.

“Much as he said he did not really like it, he did confess that this was the place that he thought he ought to come back to.”

Highlights of the festival include a free tour of the parts of Berkhamsted School that Greene would have known, led by Mr Pearce at 9am on Sunday.

It will begin outside of The Old Hall in its Castle Street campus.

There will also be a visit by Greta Scacchi, one of the stars of the movie version of Greene’s Dr Fischer Of Geneva, for the screening of the 1985 film – also featuring James Mason and Alan Bates – in Berkhamsted Civic Centre at 7.15pm on Saturday.

Graham Greene’s daughter and grandson, Caroline and Andrew Bourget, and the film’s director, producer and screenwriter Richard Brook will also be there. Tickets are £8.

Mr Pearce said: “Berkhamsted needs to wake up to the fact that these great things are going on and it is a great thing for Berkhamsted.”

For a full schedule of what’s in store, click here

{http://|To see a video about this year’s Graham Greene Festival, click here}