The Strand Serializes Unfinished Graham Greene Novel

Adrian Versteegh

The summer issue of the Strand will feature the first chapter in what is to be a five-part serialization of a previously unpublished novel by Graham Greene. The Empty Chair, a murder mystery the author began—and then evidently abandoned—when he was just twenty-two, was discovered last year by a French researcher in the Greene archives at the University of Texas in Austin.

The find was made by François Gallix, a Sorbonne scholar and Greene expert, who also—with the help of a colleague—transcribed the handwritten manuscript. An excerpt from the 1926 work, printed in the Times of London in December, quickly elicited comparisons with Agatha Christie. Andrew F. Gulli, managing editor of the Strand, says his decision to serialize the novel was based on its merits rather than its authorship. “What was tremendous about The Empty Chair,” he wrote on the magazine’s Web site, “is that despite being an early work of Greene, it’s a fantastic piece of fiction which is representative of Greene and we would have published it even if it was submitted by an unknown writer.” Gulli called Greene, who died in 1991, the “greatest writer of the 20th century.”

According to the New York Times, the Strand is looking to commission an author to complete Greene’s unfinished work. The crime magazine, revived in 1998 after a hiatus of nearly half a century, also made news recently when it ran previously unpublished stories by P. G. Wodehouse and Mark Twain. In April, the latter’s “The Undertaker’s Tale” appeared in book form for the first time when it was included in the HarperStudio collection Who Is Mark Twain?