CHANDLER, RAYMOND, (1888-1959)
Plaque erected in 2014 by English Heritage at 110 Auckland Road, Upper Norwood, London, SE19 2BY, London Borough of Croydon
CHANDLER, RAYMOND, (1888-1959)
Considered one of the founders of the hardboiled school of detective fiction and a pioneer of film noir, Chandler achieved worldwide acclaim for his series of novels featuring private detective Philip Marlowe and for his work on classic movies including 'The Blue Dahlia'.
Born in Chicago in 1888, Chandler moved to England with his mother in 1900. He attended Dulwich College, and in his early twenties Chandler worked as a freelance reporter for London newspapers, publishing his first poem 'The Unknown Love' in 1908. Disillusioned with writing, he returned to America in 1912 and spent over a decade working as an executive at Dabney Oil Company before losing his job in 1932.
This proved the impetus Chandler needed to restart writing and he began contributing to detective magazines before publishing his first novel 'The Big Sleep' in 1939. Seven internationally successful novels featuring detective Philip Marlowe followed over the next 20 years including 'Farewell, My Lovely' and 'The Long Goodbye'.
During the 1940's several of Chandler's novels were adapted into film, most famously 'The Big Sleep' with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Chandler's reputation was cemented when he was Oscar nominated for co-scriptwriting 'Double Indemnity' in 1943. He went on to write the original screenplay of the 1945 hit movie 'The Blue Dahlia'.
The blue plaque to Chandler was unveiled at his childhood home in Upper Norwood, London, in 2014. American born Chandler moved to England when he was 12 and lived in the double-fronted red-bricked villa with his mother, unmarried aunt and grandmother between c. 1901 and 1907. These were his formative years when he was studying at Dulwich College - where he excelled in classics - and preparing for the civil service.
At the time of the unveiling Sir Peter Bazalgette, English Heritage Blue Plaque panel member, said:
Raymond Chandler is probably one of the two greatest stylists of the 20th Century, along with PG Wodehouse. His 'noir' detective stories were best sellers, but also admired by the likes of Evelyn Waugh and TS Eliot. Intriguingly Chandler and Wodehouse both received the same classical education at Dulwich College. The new English Heritage Blue Plaque marks his south London home when he was a pupil there. We're commemorating a great writer where he lived when he first discovered his love of words.
Dr Joseph Spence, Master of Dulwich College, said:
One of the things about Dulwich College of which I'm proudest is the way that, since the turn of the last century, it has produced exceptional novelists in every generation. Today we have the Booker Prize winning Michael Ondaatje and Graham Swift and the Booker-nominated Tom McCarthy and Tom Rob Smith. But at the top of the list stand PG Wodehouse and Raymond Chandler. They overlapped at the College for only one term, but they shared the benefits of a classical education that enabled each of them to manipulate the English language in such an interesting and compelling way. Chandler's Philip Marlowe may speak with a Los Angeles accent, but his syntax owes more to Virgil and Livy than to any later writers.