Raymond ChandlerRaymond Chandler, master of hard-boiled detective fiction, followed in Dashell Hammett’s footsteps when he created Philip Marlowe, the quick-witted hero of seven novels published between 1942 and 1958. Chandler has published poetry, short stories and non-fiction, but his popularity is based on novels and film scripts.
Chandler, born in Chicago, educated in England, France and Germany, published his first poems and worked as a writer and translator in England until he returned to USA and settled in California in 1912. His business career ended abruptly in 1932. From then on he was writing for a living and his first crime story was published in 1933. It is said that Chandler had a lot in common with his main character Philip Marlowe, the heavy drinking loner.
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)
In 1942 Philip Marlowe made it to the movies in The Falcon Takes Over and Time to Kill. Chandler became a Hollywood scriptwriter working with producers like Billy Wilder (Double Indemnity, 1944) and Alfred Hitchcock (Strangers on a train, 1951). Other films based on Chandler's scripts and novels are Murder, My Sweet (1945), The Blue Dahlia (1946) and The Big Sleep (1946 and 1978). Being film noir classics the Chandler movies are forever tying his name to the genre.
Making the hard-boiled detective part of the real world, constructing realistic plots and setting high literary standards for his work, Chandler moved crime fiction into realism. He developed an intense and effective narrative and used the crime story to explore the dark sides of society, commenting on moral standards and ways of living in Los Angeles in the 1930s and the following two decades, always with an critical eye on the rich and the famous. His portraits of the city itself gave dimension to his books, superb background for his characters and perfect scenes for murder. He described the troubled city of the thirties and forties with detailed knowledge and great affection.
Raymond Chandler still has a stronghold on readers of crime fiction. As pioneer of the hard-boiled detective genre, he has influenced generations of crime writers. Younger relatives of Private Eye Philip Marlowe are roaming dark streets in many cities in many countries. They are sharing Marlowe's drinking habits, honesty, poverty and wit, and often the detectives as well as their urban arenas are described in characteristic Chandler style.