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Blue Plaque for Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler, author of 'The Big Sleep' and 'The Long Goodbye', has been honoured with an English Heritage blue plaque on his childhood home in London.

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'.

In his early twenties Chandler worked as a freelance reporter for London newspapers and published 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.The English Heritage Blue Plaque was unveiled at Chandler's childhood home in Upper Norwood in the London borough of Croydon. 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. 

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'. 

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."

 

The life of Raymond Chandler

July 1888: Born in Chicago, United States of America 
June 1900: Relocated to England with his mother 
Sept 1900: Started school at Dulwich College, London 
Dec 1908: First poem 'The unknown love' published in Chambers Journal
1908-12: Worked as a freelance journalist writing poems, articles and reviews
1912: Disillusioned with writing, he returned to America 
1919-32: Works as a Director at Dabney Oil Company  
1932: Loses his job and begins writing detective fiction for magazines
1939: 'The Big Sleep' published and critical acclaim grows 
1940: 'Farewell, My Lovely' published 
1943: Co- scripted 'Double Indemnity'
1945: Wrote original screenplay for 'The Blue Dahlia' 
March 1959: Died in Los Angeles from pneumonia 

The English Heritage London Blue Plaques scheme is generously supported by David Pearl, the Blue Plaques Club, and members of the public

Channel website: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/

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