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Raymond ChandlerRaymond Chandler

writer of detective stories

Raymond Thornton Chandler was born in Chicago on July 23, 1888, but grew up in England. He was educated at a local school in Upper Norwood, London, at Dulwich College in London (1900-1905), and then studied in France and Germany (1905-1907). He became a naturalized British subject in 1907 (he again became an American citizen in 1956). During World War I, he served in the Gordon Highlanders of the Canadian Army (1917-1918) and in the Royal Air Force (1918-1919).

Before taking up the writing profession, Chandler worked in the supply and accounting departments of the Admiralty (1907), and as a reporter for the London Daily Express and the Bristol Western Gazette (1908-1912). After returning to the United States in 1912, he worked in St. Louis, then on a ranch and in a sporting goods firm in California. From 1912 to 1917 he was an accountant and bookkeeper for the Los Angeles Creamery; in 1919 he worked in a San Francisco bank and then as a staff reporter for the Los Angeles Daily Express. In 1922 he became a bookkeeper (later an auditor) for the Dabney Oil Syndicate in Los Angeles, where he remained until 1932.

Chandler published his first story in 1933 in Black Mask, a magazine that specialized in detective stories. One of the leading writers of detective fiction, Chandler's stories are noted for their realism and violence. His most famous character, private eye Philip Marlowe, was first introduced in 1939, in The Big Sleep. Marlowe is a modern knight who roams the Los Angeles area, protecting the helpless and bringing the guilty to justice.

The Philip Marlowe novels are:
The Big Sleep (1939)
Farewell, My Lovely (1940)
The High Window (1942)
The Lady in the Lake (1943)
The Little Sister (1949)
The Long Goodbye (1953)
Playback (1958)
Poodle Springs (unfinished by Chandler; completed by Robert B. Parker, 1989)

In addition to the Marlowe novels, Chandler also wrote several short stories;
Five Murders (1944)
Five Sinister Characters (1945)
Finger Man and Other Stories (1946)
The Simple Art of Murder (1950)
Trouble is My Business (1950)
Smart-Aleck Kill (1958)
Pearls Are a Nuisance (1953)
Killer in the Rain (1964)
The Smell of Fear (1965)

as well as the following screenplays:
And Now Tomorrow (with Frank Partos, 1944)
Double Indemnity (with Billy Wilder, 1944)
The Unseen (with Hagar Wilde and Ken Englund, 1945)
The Blue Dahlia (1946)
Strangers on a Train (with Czenzi Ormonde and Whitfield Cook, 1951).

Several of Chandler's novels and stories have been made into films:
Time to Kill (1942)
The Falcon Takes Over (from Farewell, My Lovely, 1942)
Murder, My Sweet (from Farewell, My Lovely, 1942)
Double Indemnity (1944)
And Now Tomorrow (1944)
The Blue Dahlia (1946)
The Big Sleep (1946)
The Brasher Doubloon (from The High Window, 1947)
Lady in the Lake (1947)
Marlowe (from The Little Sister, 1969)
The Long Goodbye (1973)
Farewell, My Lovely (1975)
The Big Sleep (1978)
Once You Meet a Stranger (1996)

Chandler received the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America in 1946 and 1954, and served as president of that organization in 1959.

He died March 26, 1959.

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The Robinson Library >> Linguistics, Languages, and Literatures >> American Literature >> 1900-1960

This page was last updated on 05/25/2017.