Raymond Chandler, Gritty Enchanter

Born in Chicago in 1888 (the same year as T. S. Eliot), Raymond Chandler, an only child, was brought up by his divorced Irish mother, to whom, according to biographer Tom Williams, he was devoted to an “unhealthy” degree and with whom he lived into his thirties. As a boy, he moved from the American Midwest back to Ireland, before attending Dulwich College in London, where he wore a school uniform and studied the classics. After leaving Dulwich, he spent a year in Paris and Germany, perfecting his French and learning German well enough to pass as a native. Once back in London, he then tried to establish himself as a reviewer and littérateur, all the while composing wan Georgian-style verse.