Graham Greene at the Burns Library

Greene's passport photo Did you know that the John J. Burns Library holds a sizable collection of British author Graham Greene’s correspondence, literary manuscripts, papers, and even his personal library? We do and we are excited to announce that it is once again open to researchers! The Graham Greene papers and personal library were first acquired by the Burns Library in 1995, and we worked quickly to make the content available for use as soon as possible. Over the years, we acquired more material and hastily provided access, but the collections became unruly to use and the indexes (“finding aids”) weren’t available online. Recently, we set to work to make things better.

The first step was to discontinue researcher access while we gathered together our Greene holdings and analyzed them. Next, we did lots of archival work: we used new folders and boxes to promote long-term preservation; conserved maps that had been folded and stained; researched correspondents and chose standard name formats; and wrote a new streamlined finding aid. The collection is open again and you can now learn about all our Greene archival holdings through one record in the library catalog, which is linked to a single finding aid (PDF). This significant improvement is the result of the work of many throughout the Boston College Libraries.

A collection of Greene's belongings, such as his passport, Scrabble game, and books

Because archival collections are naturally interdisciplinary, anyone could approach any collection through any academic lens and learn something new; the Graham Greene papers have a lot to offer researchers in many fields. Greene was an author who wrote popular fiction and nonfiction and worked on screenplays and films. He was a spy(!). He was a Catholic who struggled with his faith. He traveled and was drawn, through work and personal interest, to areas in political turmoil. He lived in a time of old-school correspondence on paper and exchanged letters with many interesting and influential people on a wide array of topics. The collection is modern with the bulk of material dating between 1940 and 1989 and includes many formats, including correspondence and literary drafts, proofs, and reviews, as well as art, clippings, ephemera, legal documents, maps, objects, passports, photographs, postcards, posters, playbills, programs, research material, and scrapbooks.

A collection of Greeene's letters

We are excited to support your research use of this collection. Please plan to come in and take a look. To use the Graham Greene papers, consult the finding aid (PDF), identify boxes of interest, and then come to the reading room to see the material. We will retrieve as much material as you’d like to see. To use Graham Greene’s personal library, conduct an advance search for Local Collection Name contains phrase “Greene’s Library” and browse or filter the results. Greene annotated his books; the annotations can be interesting when juxtaposed with correspondence in the collection. Again, we are happy to retrieve books for you to use in the reading room. Anyone interested in learning about the fascinating life of the writer of Our Man in Havana, The End of the Affair, and the classic film The Third Man can delve into primary research and make their own discoveries.

Amy Braitsch
Head of Archives
John J. Burns Library