Wikipedia Raymond Chandler Bibliography Example

Raymond Chandler


"Chandler wrote as if pain hurt and life mattered."

-- The New Yorker on The Long Goodbye

"I have romantic notions of drinking gimlets with Raymond Chandler, waiting out the Santa Ana winds together in some dim bar."

-- Megan Abbott, July 24, 2016, The New York Times Book Review

Raymond Chandler was one of the foremost authors (not merely one of the foremost mystery authors) of the 20th century.

Without him, what we know today as the hard-boiled crime tale might be quite different--probably less literary in aim, if not always in execution. Chandler took the raw, realistic intrigue style that Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, and others had begun cooking up in post-World War I America, and gave it an artistic bent, filling his fiction with evocative metaphors and sentences that refuse to shed their cleverness with age (“It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained glass window”; “She sat in front of her princess dresser trying to paint the suitcases out from under her eyes.”).

Like Ernest Hemingway, Chandler had an idiosyncratic prose “voice” that is often imitated but rarely duplicated. “He wrote like a slumming angel and invested the sun-blinded streets of Los Angeles with a wonderful gusto and imaginative flair,” opined Ross Macdonald, who was among those influenced by Chandler's work, and who would go on--in novels such as The Chill (1964) and The Underground Man (1971)--to further elevate crime fiction's reputation.

Although he was born in Chicago on July 23, 1888, Raymond Thornton Chandler moved with his divorced mother, Florence, to England in 1895. After attending preparatory school in London, he studied international law in France and Germany before returning to Britain and embarking on a literary career that produced, early on, mostly book reviews and bad poetry. However, he did manage to publish 27 of his poems, as well as a short story called “The Rose-Leaf Romance,” before returning to the States in 1912. He then labored at a variety of jobs (including as a tennis-racket stringer and as a bookkeeper for a creamery in Los Angeles) until 1917, when he enlisted as a private in the Canadian Army and was sent to the French front lines during World War I. Discharged at Vancouver, Canada, in 1919, he moved back to L.A., and in 1924, wed Pearl Eugenie “Cissy” Pascal. Already twice married and divorced, she was also 18 years older than the future novelist, yet “was a lively, original, intelligent, mature, youthful-looking woman who seemed precisely right for a man of Chandler's age and experience ...,” according to biographer Jerry Speir. By this time, Chandler was on the payroll of a Southern California oil syndicate, just as the oil industry around L.A. was starting to, well, gush. He originally signed on with that syndicate as a bookkeeper, but--despite his distaste for an industry he believed was dominated by corrupt opportunists--eventually rose to the position of vice president.

However, as business pressures intensified during the Depression, and Cissy's health began to fail with age, Chandler commenced drinking heavily and engaging in affairs with office secretaries. In 1932, he was fired from his job with the oil syndicate. To ease the consequent drain on his savings, he turned back to writing, and in 1933 saw his first short story published in Black Mask, the most noteworthy of America's cheap, mass-market “pulp magazines.” Speir explains:

It was an 18,000-word story called “Blackmailers Don't Shoot” and caused the editorial staff to wonder if this unknown man were a genius or crazy. The story was so well polished that not a phrase could be cut, thus the praise for his “genius.” But in his compulsive drive for perfection, [Chandler] had also tried to “justify” the right margin, as printers say. He had tried to make the typed page appear with even margins on both the left and right, like a printed page--thus the concern for his possible “craziness.”

Chandler relished mystery writing because it seemed to lack pretension, and the pulps' restrictions on word length and subject matter compelled him to master the art of storytelling. Never a past master of plotting, Chandler found his own strengths instead in creating emotion through description and dialogue, and in presenting a prose idiom that melded the precision of his prep-school English with the vigor of American vernacular speech.

His first novel, The Big Sleep (which he wrote in three months), hit bookstores in 1939 and introduced the character who would come to be synonymous with, and long outlive, his creator: wisecracking, chess-playing, late-30s L.A. private eye Philip Marlowe. Marlowe embodied the author's conception (spelled out in his classic 1944 essay, “The Simple Art of Murder”) of the gumshoe as “a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor--by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and good enough for any world. I do not care much about his private life; he is neither a eunuch nor a satyr; I think he might seduce a duchess and I am quite sure he would not spoil a virgin; if he is a man of honor in one thing, he is that in all things.”

Chandler hadn't intended to write mysteries for the rest of his life, but that's exactly what he did. Thank goodness. After The Big Sleep, he penned six more Marlowe adventures, including what are arguably two undeniable classics: Farewell, My Lovely (1940) and The Long Goodbye (1953). He also took a turn in the early '40s as a Hollywood scriptwriter, adapting James M. Cain's Double Indemnity (1943) and writing the original screenplay for The Blue Dahlia (1946). Both garnered Oscar nominations for Chandler, and both (and Double Indemnity in particular) are well worth watching, be it on the silver screen or on televisions.

In 1954, just a year after The Long Goodbye was published, Cissy died from fibrosis of the lungs, sending her then 66-year-old husband into a “long nightmare” of mourning that left him with severe depression and resulted in at least one suicide attempt. Biographers like Frank McShane (The Life of Raymond Chandler, 1976) have remarked on the mixture in Chandler's stories of toughness and sentimentality, and how “the emotional sensitivity that made [Chandler's] literary achievement possible also made him miserable as a human being.” That miserableness was much in evidence during the last five years of Chandler's life. He survived it, in part, through the ministrations of Helga Greene, his London literary agent and friend (and, in the months prior to his death, his fiancée), and went on to compose Playback, which was based on a screenplay he'd written in 1947. That novel reached bookstore shelves just 16 months before he passed away, on March 26, 1959.

When Raymond Chandler died, he left behind an unfinished manuscript titled The Poodle Springs Story, which Robert B. Parker (a novelist who shows distinctive Chandlerian influences in his own novels, featuring a Boston P.I. named Spenser) would complete and see published, as simply Poodle Springs, in 1989.

The author left in his wake, too, a stylistic legacy that has inspired successive generations of detective novelists; without Chandler (along with Hammett and Macdonald) having shown them the way, people such as Parker, Michael Connelly, Timothy Harris, Arthur Lyons, Max Allan Collins, Robert Crais, Walter Mosley, Sara Paretsky, Paco Ignacio Taibo II and Loren D. Estleman might never have found their way into writing crime fiction. The success of movies made from Chandler's stories (especially Humphrey Bogart's 1946 The Big Sleep and James Garner's Marlowe, a 1969 flick based on The Little Sister), as well as radio shows, TV series, and even comic books based on his work makes us forget that he only ever published seven novels and 24 short stories during his lifetime.

The impact of his legacy has far exceeded the limits of his artistic fabrication. He gave the world an indelible image of mid-20th-century Los Angeles as a city where lawlessness and luxury were old drinking buddies, and trust was a rare commodity--a rather different place from what Chandler himself had encountered during his first, pre-World War I foray to Southern California. (In The Little Sister, he has Marlowe say, “I used to like this town. A long time ago. ... [It] was just a big dry sunny place with ugly homes and no style, but goodhearted and peaceful.”) This author also bequeathed us an archetype of the fictional private eye as a tired latter-day knight who, though he has traded his helmet for a fedora, still knows how to rescue a damsel in distress. That archetype has been altered in the decades since Chandler's demise, but its shadow can still be seen behind many of the crime-novel protagonists working today.

As McShane put it in his introduction to the wonderful 1988 anthology, Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe: A Centennial Celebration, “Chandler was a real artist. He created a character who has become a part of American folk mythology, and in writing about Los Angeles, he depicted a world of great beauty and seamy corruption--the American reality. He made words dance, and readers continue to respond to his magic.”

So, let us drink a toast to Raymond Chandler: an unusual man, but one of the best writers in his own world and good enough for any world.

Respectfully submitted byJ. Kingston Pierce. An earlier version of this piece appeared on his blog, Limbo.


  • "Chandler did not write "funny" in a Donald Westlake-goofy humorous way. But, for me, (his work) consists of one drawing-room comedy scene after another. In The Long Goodbye, not his larkiest book by a long shot, Marlowe comes upon a thug who has just been worked over by a sadistic cop by the name of (I think but am too lazy to look up) McGoon. The thug says, "That McGoon thinks he's tough." Marlowe looks at the guy's bloody and mangled body and says, "You mean he's not sure?" In The Little Sister, Marlowe finds himself sharing a patio with the head of a movie studio whose only joy in life is watching his dogs urinate in order of their age. Marlowe's first novel finds him engaged in fast-paced patter with a wealthy and spoiled young woman that ends with the detective telling the family butler, "You ought to wean her. She looks old enough." In his last, Playback, there are numerous little sequences that yield witty and nasty and, yes, bitter quips. In effect Chandler's novels seem to me to be the hardboiled equivalent to Noel Coward's theater comedies."

-- Dick Lochte

  • "Dashiell Hammett may have shown how mean those streets could be, but Raymond Chandler imagined a man who could go down those streets who was not himself mean."

-- Kevin Burton Smith



The original incomplete draft by Chandler posthumously published in Raymond Chandler Speaking, 1984.

  • The Blue Dahlia (1976; screenplay)
  • Raymond Chandler's Unknown Thriller: The Screenplay of Playback (1985; reworked as the 1958 Marlowe novel)


NOTE: Chandler would often cannabilize earlier short stories for novels, which all featured Philip Marlowe. As well, several of his short stories originally featured protagonists other than Marlowe, but became Marlowe stories (or, in a few cases, John Dalmas stories) when they were collected, notably in The Simple Art of Murder. In all cases, the original detective is shown in this list.
The first Marlowe novel, The Big Sleep, uses "The Curtain" and "Killer in the Rain." Farewell, My Lovely uses "The Man Who Liked Dogs," "Try the Girl," and "Mandarin's Jade." The Lady in the Lake uses "Bay City Blues," "The Lady in the Lake" and "No Crime in the Mountains." Chandler didn't allow these stories to be collected and printed in his lifetime, but they were collected in 1964's Killer in the Rain, published after his death.

  • "Blackmailers Don't Shoot" (December 1933, Black Mask; Mallory)
  • "Smart-Aleck Kill" (July 1934, Black Mask; Mallory)
  • "Finger Man" (October 1934, Black Mask; Carmady)
  • "Killer in the Rain" (January 1935, Black Mask; Carmady)
  • "Nevada Gas" (June 1935, Black Mask)
  • "Spanish Blood" (November 1935, Black Mask)
  • "Guns at Cyrano's" (January 1936, Black Mask; Ted Malvern)
  • "The Man Who Liked Dogs" (March 1936, Black Mask; Carmady)
  • "Noon Street Nemesis" (May 30, 1936, Detective Fiction Weekly; aka "Pick-up on Noon Street")
  • "Goldfish" (June 1936, Black Mask; Carmady)
  • "The Curtain" (September 1936, Black Mask; Carmady)
  • "Try the Girl" (January 1937, Black Mask; Carmady)
  • "Mandarin's Jade" (November 1937, Dime Detective Magazine; John Dalmas)
  • "Red Wind" (January 1938, Dime Detective Magazine; John Dalmas)
  • "The King in Yellow" (March 1938, Dime Detective Magazine)
  • "Bay City Blues" (June 1938; Dime Detective Magazine; John Dalmas)
  • "The Lady in the Lake" (January 1939, Dime Detective Magazine; John Dalmas)
  • "Pearls Are a Nuisance" (April 1939, Dime Detective Magazine)
  • "Trouble Is My Business" (August 1939, Dime Detective Magazine; John Dalmas)
  • "I'll Be Waiting" (October 14, 1939, Saturday Evening Post; Tony Resick)
  • "The Bronze Door" (November 1939, Unknown Worlds)
  • "No Crime in the Mountains" (September 1941, Detective Story; John Evans)
  • "Professor Bingo's Snuff" (June-August 1951, Park East Magazine)
  • "English Summer" (1957; first printed in 1976, The Notebooks of Raymond Chandler)
  • "Marlowe Takes on the Syndicate" (April 6-10, 1959, London Daily Mail; aka "Philip Marlowe's Last Case" in January 1962, EQMM; aka "The Pencil" in September 1965, Argosy; as "Wrong Pidgeon" in February 1969, Manhunt; Philip Marlowe)
  • "It's Alright -- He Only Died" (October 2017-February 2018, The Strand)


  • Five Murderers (1944)
  • Five Sinister Characters (1945)
  • The Finger Man and Other Stories (1946)
  • Spanish Blood (1946)
  • Red Wind (1946)
  • The Simple Art of Murder (1950)...Buy this book
  • Trouble is My Business (1950)...Buy this book
  • Pick-Up On Noon Street (1953)
  • Killer in the Rain (1964)
  • Raymond Chandler: Stories and Early Novels (1995)...Buy this book

Library of America edition includes The Big Sleep, Farewell, My Lovely and The High Window, plus selected early stories.

  • Raymond Chandler: Later Novels and Other Writings (1995) ..Buy this book

Second Library of America edition includes The Lady in the Lake, The Little Sister, The Long Goodbye, Playback, the Double Indemnity screenplay, plus selected essays and letters.

This Everyman's Library Edition is a whopping 1344 pages, and includes ALL of Chandler's short fiction.

  • Raymond Chandler: The Library of America Edition (2014)...Buy this book

Deluxe collector's box of two previous Library of America editions.


  • "The Simple Art of Murder" (December 1944, The Atlantic Monthly)
  • "Writers in Hollywood" (November 1945, The Atlantic Monthly)
  • "Critical Notes." (July 1947, Screen Writer)
  • "Oscar Night in Hollywood" (March 1948, The Atlantic Monthly)
  • "The Simple Art of Murder." (April 15, 1950, Saturday Review of Literature; revised version of the December 1944 Atlantic Monthly article)
  • "Ten Per Cent of Your Life" (February 1952, Atlantic Monthly)
  • "A Couple of Writers" (1951; first published in 1984, Raymond Chandler Speaking)
  • "Ten Per Cent of Your Life" (February 1952, The Atlantic Monthly)


    (1942, RKO)
    Release date: May 29, 1942
    Based on characters created by Michael Arlen and Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler
    Adapted by Lynn Root and Frank Fenton
    Directed by Irving Reis
    Starring George Sanders as GAY LAWRENCE, THE FALCON

The first film adaptation of a Chandler novel, although the detective is Michael Arlen's The Falcon, not Philip Marlowe.

    (1942, 20th Century Fox)
    Release date: January 22, 1943
    Based on characters created by Brett Halliday and The High Window by Raymond Chandler
    Screenplay by Clarence Upsom Young
    Directed by Herbert I. Leeds
    Produced by Sol M. Wurtzel
    Starring Lloyd Nolan as MICHAEL SHAYNE

The second film adaptation of a Chandler novel, but once again the hero is not Marlowe. This time it's Brett Halliday's Michael Shayne.

  • DOUBLE INDEMNITY....Buy this video...Buy the DVD...Buy the Blu-Ray
    (1944, Paramount)
    107 minutes
    Based on the novel by James M. Cain
    Screenplay by Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler
    Directed by Billy Wilder
    Starring Fred MacMurray as Walter Neff
    Barbara Stanwyck as Phyllis Dietrichson
    and Edward G. Robinson as BARTON KEYES

Nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

    (1944, Paramount)
    86 minutes
    Based on the novel by Rachel Field
    Screenplay by Raymond Chandler and Frank Partos
    Directed by Irving Pichel
    Costumes by Edith Head
    Starring Alan Ladd, Loretta Young, Susan Hayward, Barry Sullivan

Handsome but poor doctor falls in love with a rich, beautiful deaf patient. No wonder Chandler drank.

  • MURDER MY SWEET....Buy this video...Buy on DVD
    (UK title: Farewell, My Lovely)
    (1944, RKO)
    Based onFarewell My Lovely by Raymond Chandler
    Screenplay by John Paxton
    Directed by Edward Dmytryk
    Starring Dick Powell as PHILIP MARLOWE

My favourite Marlowe, in my favourite Marlowe film.

    (1945, Paramount)
    82 minutes
    Based on the novel Her Heart in Her Throat by Ethel Lina White
    Screenplay by Hagar Wilde and Raymond Chandler
    Directed by Lewis Allen
    Starring Joel McCrea, Gail Russell, Herbert Marshall, Phyllis Brooks

A governess is haunted by a ghost, or possibly her past. Pass the scotch.

  • THE BLUE DAHLIA....Buy this video)..Buy the DVD
    (1946, Paramount)
    100 minutes
    Original screenplay by Raymond Chandler
    Directed by George Marshall
    Produced by John Houseman
    Starring Alan Ladd as Johnny Morrison
    Also starring Veronica Lake, William Bendix, Howard DaSylva, Tom Powers, Hugh Beaumont

A soldier comes home from the war to discover his wife's a tramp. She's also dead, and he's the prime suspect. A pretty good flick, despite numerous production snafus, studio squabbles and Chandler being crocked to the gills during most of the writing.

  • THE BIG SLEEP....Buy this video ...Buy this DVD
    (1946, Warner Brothers)
    Based on the novel by Raymond Chandler
    Screenplay by William Faulkner, Jules Furthman and Leigh Brackett
    Directed by Howard Hawks
    Starring Humphrey Bogart as PHILIP MARLOWE

A great and much beloved film, but it ain't Chandler's Marlowe.

Director and star couldn't even spell "Phillip" correctly, but his idea of filming the entire thing using the subjective camera was what really sank this turkey. Not that the acting was any help. Kiss my lens, baby!

    (UK title: The High Window)
    (1947, 20th Century Fox)
    Based onThe High Window by Raymond Chandler
    Screenplay by Dorothy Hannah
    Adaptation by Leonard Praskins
    Directed by John Brahm
    Starring George Montgomery as PHILIP MARLOWE

Long considered the redheaded stepchild of Marlowe films, it's usually dismissed as inconsequential, and certainly stills from the film, depicting George Montgomery as a Marlowe who sports a chessy mustache don't hold much promise. But the film, only recently made widely available, while slight, is a pleasant surprise. Some very effective camera work and some great character bits go a long way to making this quickie B-flick an enjoyably satisfying piece of film.

  • STRANGERS ON A TRAIN....Buy this video...Buy the DVD
    (1951, Warner Brothers)
    100 minutes
    Based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith
    Adapted by Whitfield Cook
    Screenplay by Raymond Chandler and Czenzi Ormonde
    Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
    Produced by Alfred Hitchcock
    Starring Farley Granger, Ruth Roman, Robert Walker, Leo G. Carroll

By most accounts, Chandler's final screenplay for this psychological thriller was completely trashed by director/producer Hitchcock, and never used. Ormonde, though, was forced to share the credit with Chandler, due to studio politics.

  • MARLOWE....Buy this video... Buy the DVD
    (1969, Metrocolor/MGM)
    Based onThe Little Sister by Raymond Chandler
    Screenplay by Stirling Silliphant
    Directed by Paul Bogart
    Starring James Garner as PHILIP MARLOWE

This 1969 adaptation is well worth a look, even if Garner is a little stiff, caught somewhere between the hard-boiled dicks of 40s detective films and his future incarnation as easy-going Jim Rockford. Not essential, maybe, and too groovy for its own good, but fun nonetheless.

  • THE LONG GOODBYE... Buy the video... Buy the DVD
    (1973, United Artists)
    Based on the novel by Raymond Chandler
    Screenplay by Leigh Brackett
    Directed by Robert Altman
    Starring Elliot Gould as PHILIP MARLOWE

Robert Altman's quirky, rabble-rousing 1973 revisionist ode to Chandler and Marlowe is either a grievous insult, or a perfect update, depending on where you stand. You hate it, or you love it -- that's all there is to it. Elliot Gould stars, though Leigh (The Big Sleep) Brackett's script is the real draw here.
And the funny thing is that, despite the howls of the alleged "purists," The Long Goodbye is probably truer to Chandler's Marlowe than Hawks' much more celebrated version, which swaps the essential loneliness of the character and the tragedy of crushed ideals of Chandler's character for a Marlowe who's more horny fratboy than doomed knight. In Altman's vision, Marlowe is truly and undeniably part of the nastiness by the finale. No romantic clinches with the babe as the credits roll in this one.

  • FAREWELL, MY LOVELY...Buy this video....Buy this DVD
    (1975, EK Corporation/ITC)
    95 minutes
    Based on the novel by Raymond Chandler
    Screenplay by David Zelag Goodman
    Directed by Dick Richards
    Starring Robert Mitchum as PHILIP MARLOWE

A solid flick, marred by the fact Mitchum is about 30 or so years late in playing the role. But there's something quite engaging in seeing Marlowe as a tired, aging bruiser plowing his way through a faithfully reproduced 1940s Los Angeles of mean streets and "shine bars."

Mitchum again, but even older and more tired, and for some reason transported to London. There's a solid cast, and in some ways it's more faithful than Hawks' classic (they restore the soliloquy, for example, and Candy Clark reclaims much of the disturbing, off-kilter sexuality of Carmen's character) but it's at best a curiosity, for die-hard fans only. It also underscores the fact they should have cast Mitchum as Marlowe thirty or so years earlier.

  • THE LITTLE SISTER...Watch it on You Tube
    (2015, Brooklyn Multimedia)
    103 minutes
    Based on the novel by Raymond Chandler
    Grafted over the PC game Private Eye (1996, Simon & Schuster Interactive and Byron Preiss Multimedia)
    Directed and scripted by Josh Buckland

An animated gem of a bootleg, using elements of the old PC game Private Eye (which itself borrowed heavily from Chandler's The Little Sister). Definitely worth investigating. FanFic taken to a whole new level.



    (June 11, 1945)
    Based onFarewell My Lovely by Raymond Chandler
    Starring Dick Powell as PHILIP MARLOWE
    Also starring Claire Trevor, Mike Mazursky, June Dupré

    (1947, NBC)
    13 30-minute episodes
    Adapted from short stories by Raymond Chandler
    Starring Van Hefflin as PHILIP MARLOWE

    (June 8, 1948)
    Based on characters created by Raymond Chandler
    Starring Dick Powell as PHILIP MARLOWE
    Also starring Mary Astor, Mike Mazurki, Arthur Wentworth, Lauren Tuttle

    (1948-51, CBS)
    Based on the character created by Raymond Chandler
    Starring Gerald Mohr as PHILIP MARLOWE

    (April 20, 1950)
    Based on the short story by Raymond Chandler
    Starring Ray Milland

    (1977-88, BBC4)
    Based on the novels by Raymond Chandler
    Dramatised by Bill Morrison
    Produced by John Tydeman
    Starring Ed Bishop as PHILIP MARLOWE

    (2011, BBC4)
    Eight episodes
    Each episode 60-90 minutes
    First broadcast: February 5, 2011 (BBC Radio 4)
    Based on the novels by Raymond Chandler (and Robert B. Parker, for Poodle Springs)
    Dramatised by Robin Brooks, Stephen Wyatt
    Directors: Claire Grove, Mary Peate, Sasha Yevtushenko
    Starring Toby Stephens as PHILIP MARLOWE


    (October 7, 1954)
    Aired as an episode of drama anthology Climax! (1954-58, CBS)
    Based on the novel by Raymond Chandler
    Starring Dick Powell as PHILIP MARLOWE

    (1959-60, ABC)
    26 30-minute B&W episodes
    Based on characters created by Raymond Chandler
    Starring Philip Carey as PHILIP MARLOWE

    (1984, London Weekend Television)
    5 60-minute episodes
    Based on stories by Raymond Chandler
    Starring Powers Boothe as PHILIP MARLOWE

    (1986, Canada)
    6 60-minute episodes
    Based on stories by Raymond Chandler
    Starring Powers Boothe as PHILIP MARLOWE

    (1993, Showetime)
    Aired as an episode of Showtime's Fallen Angels.
    Based on the short story by Raymond Chandler
    Teleplay by C. Gaby Mitchell
    Directed by Tom Hanks
    Starring Bruno Kirby as TONY RESICIK
    Also starring Dan Hedaya, Marg Helgenberger, Jon Polito, Dick Miller, Peter Scolari

    (1995, Showtime)
    Aired as an episode of Showtime's Fallen Angels.
    Based on the short story by Raymond Chandler
    Starring Danny Glover as PHILIP MARLOWE
    Also starring Valeria Golino
    Glover was nominated for a 1996 Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series Emmy for his portrayal of Marlowe in this episode.

    (1998, HBO)
    Based on characters created by Raymond Chandler and the novel Poodle Springs, completed by Robert B. Parker
    Teleplay by Tom Stoppard
    Directed by Bob Rafaelson
    Starring James Caan as PHILIP MARLOWE


Ted Benoit, who adapted the novel, also created retro-cool private eye Ray Banana, who appeared in several bandes déssinées


    (1995, Lodestone Media/ Otherworld Media
    60 minute audio cassette
    Produced by David Ossman (Firesign Theatre)
    Starring Harris Yulin and Harry Anderson


Arranged chronologically...

  • Pollock, Wilson,
    "Man with a Toy Gun."
    May 7, 1962, New Republic.

  • Durham, Philip,
    Down These Mean Streets a Man Must Go: Raymond Chandler's Knight... Buy this book
    Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1963.

The first serious biography on Chandler; pivotal and essential.

  • Bruccoli, Matthew J.
    Raymond Chandler: A Check List ... Buy this book
    Kent State University Press, 1968.

This 35-page chapbook was possibly the first major bibliographical list devoted to Chandler.

  • Ruhm, Herbert,
    "Raymond Chandler: From Bloomsbury to the Jungleand Beyond."
    From Tough Guy Writers of the Thirties, edited by David Madden
    Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1968.

  • Jameson, Fredric,
    "On Raymond Chandler."
    1970, Southern Review.

  • Beekman, E. M.
    "Raymond Chandler and an American Genre"
    Winter 1973, Massachusetts Review.

  • Porter, J. C.,
    "End of the Trail: The American West of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler"
    October 1975, Western Historical Quarterly.

  • Reck, T. S.,
    "Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles"
    December 20, 1975, Nation.

  • MacShane, Frank.
    The Life of Raymond Chandler... Buy this book
    New York: Dutton, 1976.

  • Pendo, Stephen,
    Raymond Chandler on Screen: His Novels into Film... Buy this book
    Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow, 1976.

  • Gardiner, Dorothy and Kathrine Sorley Walker, editors.
    Raymond Chandler Speaking.. Buy this book
    Houghton-Mifflin, 1977.

A collection of Chandler's personal correspondence, articles and other bits and pieces. Petty, nasty, cranky, cynical and at times surprisingly touching.

  • Gross, Miriam, ed.
    The World of Raymond Chandler.. Buy this book
    New York: A & W, 1978.

  • Pepper, James, editor,
    Letters: Raymond Chandler and James M. Fox.. Buy this book
    Neville Publishing, 1978.

Fascinating collection of letters from 1950-56 between Chandler and fellow mystery writer Fox, creator of the Johnny & Suzy Marshall detective series. An unlikely friendship, but there ya go. They apparently met at a party at mystery collector Ned Guymon's house, and Fox eventually dedicated his book Dark Crusade to Chandler. Fox was obviously in awe of Chandler and Chandler, of course, could always write a mean letter.

  • Zolotow, Maurice,
    "Through a Shot Glass, Darkly: How Raymond Chandler Screwed Hollywood"
    Buy this book
    1978, Action Magazine.

  • Bruccoli, Matthew J.
    Raymond Chandler: A Descriptive Bibliography.. Buy this book
    Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1979.

  • MacShane, Frank, editor.
    Selected Letters of Raymond Chandler.. Buy this book
    Colombia University Press, 1981.

What happens when a lonely, cranky drunk man decides to write a few letters. But this man could write a damn good letter.

  • Speir, Jerry,
    Raymond Chandler.. Buy this book
    New York: Ungar, 1981.

Part of Ungar's "Recognitions" series.

  • Clark, Al
    Chandler in Hollywood.. Buy this book
    New York: Proteus, 1982.

Revised edition, "Raymond Chandler in Hollywood," 1996.

  • Luhr, William.
    Raymond Chandler and Film.. Buy this book
    Frederick Hungar, 1982.

  • Thorpe, Edward.
    Chandlertown: The Los Angeles of Philip Marlowe.. Buy this book
    London: Vermilion, 1983.

Quite similiar to the above Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles, this slender volume (just over 100 pages) is more text-oriented, and offers a lot more contextual information.

  • Newlin, Keith,
    Hardboiled Burlesque: Raymond Chandler's Comic Style...Buy this book
    New York: Brownstone, 1984.

  • Wolfe, Peter,
    Something More Than Night: The Case of Raymond Chandler...Buy this book
    Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Press, 1985.

  • Silver, Alain and Elizabeth Ward.
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles...Buy this book
    Overlook Press, 1987.

Very interesting, especially for Chandler readers (like me) who've never been to LA. It consists of over 100 photographs (taken mostly in the 1980s), and accompanied by snippets from Chandler's novels and stories.

  • Hiney, Tom,
    Raymond Chandler: A Biography...Buy this book
    U.K.: Chatto & Windus, 1997.

A major new biography, updating and rivalling Frank McShane's seminal The Life of Raymond Chandler.

  • Phillips, Gene D.,
    Creatures of Darkness: Raymond Chandler, Detective Fiction, and Film Noir
    Buy this book
    Kentucky, University Press of Kentucky; 2000.

The first in-depth study of Chandler and his work in film in years. Phillips zigs and zags all over the place here, throwing in an anecdote here, a little gossip there, and another Cliff's Notes synopsis over there, but he has some interesting ideas worth checking out. And some of those bits and pieces are just great stuff. Phillips tosses in a preface by Billy Wilder, a prologue, an introduction, and a brief biography of Chandler, but he's at his best when he relates how Chandler's screenplays, including Double Indemnity (directed by Billy Wilder) and Strangers on a Train (directed by Alfred Hitchcock), slammed him right up against the Hollywood elite, with whom he had a serious love/hate thing going on. And there's some truly great behind-the-scenes stuff any movie buff would enjoy, plus a fascinating look at the unpublished Lady of the Lake screenplay, the never actually produced Playback script and an intriguing comparison of the original version of Howard Hawks The Big Sleep, and the version most of us got to see.

  • Chandler, Raymond,
    The Raymond Chandler Papers: Selected Letters & Non-fiction, 1909-1959....Buy this book
    New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2001.

Selected tidbits by the master, edited by Chandler biographers Frank MacShane and Tom Hiney, expanding on MacShane's previous Selected Letters of Raymond Chandler.

  • Olson, Brian and Bonnie,
    Tailing Philip Marlowe ..Buy this book
    Burlwrite LLC, 2003.

This handy-dandy trade paperback features three single-day ours of Los Angeles, visiting over forty locations referred to by Raymond Chandler in his novels: Marlowe's Hollywood, Marlowe's Downtown, and Marlowe's Drive. Includes b&w photo illustrations, color maps, local colour and more historical trivia than you can shake a gimlet at. For a new Los Angeleno like myself, or just someone contemplating killing a few days in the City of Angels, this is one righteous read.

  • Moss, Robert F., editor,
    Raymond Chandler: A Literary Reference ..Buy this book
    Carroll & Graf, 2003.

Private correspondence, previously uncollected essays (both by and about Chandler) and associated material shed greater light on his triumphs and troubles. Well illustrated, with classic book jackets and photographs.

  • Chandler, Raymond (edited by Marty Asher)
    Philip Marlowe's Guide to Life....Buy this book
    New York: Knopf, 2005.

What took 'em so long? This is a no-brainer -- a pocket-sized collection of the wit and wisdom culled from the greatest series of private eye novels ever, offering the "rude wit," two-fisted wisecracks and bruised romanticism Marlowe was known for. A tip of the fedora to Marty Asher for finally doing what needed to be done.

It's a shame about Ray, or at least that's what the author of this alternately trashy and insightful biograghy seems to want to imply. Freeman sniffs through the flotsam and jetsam of Chandler's personal life and particularly his marriage to Cissy, a much older woman. Freeman pawed through his papers and letters, interviewed some of the people who actually knew them, and tracked down over thirty of the California homes and apartments the Chandlers lived in, all in an effort to figure out what made Chandler tick, but the result is still inconclusive, and alternately intriguing and more than a little creepy. Plus, it doesn't change one iota the work Chandler left behind. Or how I feel about it.

  • Athanasourelis, John Paul,
    Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe: The Hard-Boiled Detective Transformed
    Buy this book. .Kindle it!
    McFarland, 2011.

Bronx English prof holds Marlowe up to the light, and suggests that his "feeling for community and willingness to compromise radically changed the genre's vigilantism and violence," and compares Chandler's work to his contemporaries, and considers his impact on the genre as a whole.

  • Williams, Tom,
    A Mysterious Something in the Light: The Life of Raymond Chandler
    Buy this book.. Kindle it!
    Chicago, IL: Chicago Review Press, 2013.

After The Long Embrace, you've got to wonder at this point what's left to find out or to insinuate -- but this compelling study by rookie author Williams digs up all sorts of dirt, from child abuse to alcoholism, and tries to back it up with footnotes, interviews, quotes, letters and articles, that will have Chandler disciples fascinated -- and non-fans wondering what the fuss is about. For those unfortunates, just give them a drink and hand them a copy of The Big Sleep.

  • Cooper, Kim,
    The Raymond Chandler Map of Los Angeles...Buy the map
    Herb Lester Associates; 2014.

Yep, an actual map, spotlighting actual locations taken from Chandler's works (including the films) and his life. But mostly, it's just beautifully designed and illustrated.

  • Day, Barry, editor, and Raymond Chandler,
    The World of Raymond Chandler: In His Own Words.. Buy this book . Kindle it!
    New York, NY: Knopf, 2014.

Day cobbles together the autobiography Chandler never wrote, using excerpts from the man's letters, essays, interviews and fiction to tell the story. A compelling fascinating look at Chandler, his life and times, and how he saw them. It's all speculation, in a way, but it''s fascinating nonetheless.

In this brief volume, culled from numerous essays over the years, one of America's leading Marxist literary critics takes on Chandler yet again, arguing that his work "reconstructs both the context in which it was written and the social world or totality it projects." No, seriously. A sharp incisive look that -- whether you agree with Frederic's conclusions or not -- is worth reading for its punchy prose style and big balls thinking.


  • Department of Special Collections, Research Library, University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Contains manuscripts, notebooks, translations, memorabilia, and Chandleriana.


Robert Altman's "The Long Goodbye" remembered by Thomas Pluck.

A great-looking site, unfortunately overloaded with graphics, scripts, and sound files. Almost worth visiting, if you've got a lot of patience. Check out Who is Philip Marlowe? by Bill Henkin.

More a spoof of hardboiled cliches in general, than Chandler specifically, but still fun. And winner, apparently, of an Honorable Mention in the 1995 International Imitation Raymond Chandler Competition.

Gary Nordell's Chandler page has a brief bio and a list of books, audiobooks, films and posters for sale.

Stephen Blackmoore's tribute to the master.

A fascinating romp (with photos) through one man's Chandler obsession, featuring first American and first British editions, vintage paperbacks, foreign editions, magazine appearances, various reprints, limited editions, movie related items, reference works, bibliographies, student editions and some ephemera. Sadly, Al will not tell me when he plans to be out of town for a few days, or where he hides his spare key.

A short, short story; more a spoof of hardboiled cliches in general, than Chandler specifically, but still fun. Winner of Honorable Mention in the 1995 International Imitation Raymond Chandler Competition.

A tribute to Chandler from the celebrated horror/fantasy writer, of all people. Excellent!

Directives from Chairman Chandler

Ignore these at your peril.

Choice nuggets from letters, interviews, essays and articles.

The man could put words together. Quotes from his fiction.

A March 2017 review by The Guardian's Brian Dillon of Frederic Jameson's Raymond Chandler: The Detections of Totality may be well worth reading all by itself.

Kim Cooper relates her discovery of this long-lost piece of work, its history, and her wrangles with the Chandler estate over the rights to stage it. Sign the petition.

Respectfully submitted by J. Kingston Pierce. Additional information compiled by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to Ted Fitzgerald, Chris Mills, Henry Cabot Beck, Barry Ergang, Steven Ardron and Marc LaViolette for their additional help with this page.

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For the 14th United States Sergeant Major of the Army, see Raymond F. Chandler.

Raymond Chandler
BornRaymond Thornton Chandler
(1888-07-23)July 23, 1888
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
DiedMarch 26, 1959(1959-03-26) (aged 70)
La Jolla, California, U.S.
Resting placeMount Hope Cemetery (San Diego, California)
NationalityAmerican (1888–1907, 1956–1959)
British (1907–1956)
GenreCrime fiction, suspense, hardboiled
SpouseCissy Pascal (m. 1924; d. 1954)

Raymond Thornton Chandler (US:, UK:; July 23, 1888 – March 26, 1959) was a novelist and screenwriter. In 1932, at the age of forty-four, Chandler became a detective fiction writer after losing his job as an oil company executive during the Great Depression. His first short story, "Blackmailers Don't Shoot", was published in 1933 in Black Mask, a popular pulp magazine. His first novel, The Big Sleep, was published in 1939. In addition to his short stories, Chandler published seven novels during his lifetime (an eighth, in progress at the time of his death, was completed by Robert B. Parker). All but Playback have been made into motion pictures, some more than once. In the year before his death, he was elected president of the Mystery Writers of America. He died on March 26, 1959, in La Jolla, California.[1]

Chandler had an immense stylistic influence on American popular literature. He is considered to be a founder of the hard-boiled school of detective fiction, along with Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain and other Black Mask writers. The protagonist of his novels, Philip Marlowe, like Hammett's Sam Spade, is considered by some to be synonymous with "private detective." Both were played in films by Humphrey Bogart, whom many consider to be the quintessential Marlowe.

Some of Chandler's novels are important literary works, and at least three have been regarded as masterpieces: Farewell, My Lovely (1940), The Little Sister (1949), and The Long Goodbye (1953). The Long Goodbye was praised in an anthology of American crime stories as "arguably the first book since Hammett's The Glass Key, published more than twenty years earlier, to qualify as a serious and significant mainstream novel that just happened to possess elements of mystery". Chandler's reputation has grown in recent years.[2]


Early life[edit]

Chandler was born in 1888 in Chicago, the son of Florence Dart (Thornton) and Maurice Benjamin Chandler.[3][4] He spent his early years in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, living with his mother and father near his cousins and his aunt (his mother's sister) and uncle.[5] Chandler's father, an alcoholic civil engineer who worked for the railway, abandoned the family. To obtain the best possible education for Ray, his mother, originally from Ireland, moved them to the area of Upper Norwood in the London Borough of Croydon[6] in 1900.[7] Another uncle, a successful lawyer in Waterford, Ireland, supported them[8] while they lived with Chandler's maternal grandmother. Raymond was a first cousin to the actor Max Adrian, a founder member of the Royal Shakespeare Company; Max's mother Mabel was a sister of Florence Thornton. Chandler was classically educated at Dulwich College, London (a public school whose alumni include the authors P. G. Wodehouse[8] and C. S. Forester). He spent some of his childhood summers in Waterford with his mother's family.[9] He did not go to university, instead spending time in Paris and Munich improving his foreign language skills. In 1907, he was naturalized as a British subject in order to take the civil service examination, which he passed. He then took an Admiralty job, lasting just over a year. His first poem was published during that time.

Chandler disliked the servility of the civil service and resigned, to the consternation of his family, and became a reporter for the Daily Express and the Bristol Western Gazette newspapers. He was unsuccessful as a journalist, but he published reviews and continued writing romantic poetry. An encounter with the slightly older Richard Barham Middleton is said to have influenced him into postponing his career as writer. "I met... also a young, bearded, and sad-eyed man called Richard Middleton. ... Shortly afterwards he committed suicide in Antwerp, a suicide of despair, I should say. The incident made a great impression on me, because Middleton struck me as having far more talent than I was ever likely to possess; and if he couldn't make a go of it, it wasn't very likely that I could." Accounting for that time he said, "Of course in those days as now there were...clever young men who made a decent living as freelances for the numerous literary weeklies", but "I was distinctly not a clever young man. Nor was I at all a happy young man."[10]

In 1912, he borrowed money from his Waterford uncle, who expected it to be repaid with interest, and returned to America, visiting his aunt and uncle before settling in San Francisco for a time, where he took a correspondence course in bookkeeping, finishing ahead of schedule. His mother joined him there in late 1912. They moved to Los Angeles in 1913,[11] where he strung tennis rackets, picked fruit and endured a time of scrimping and saving. He found steady employment with the Los Angeles Creamery. In 1917, when the United States entered World War I, he enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He saw combat in the trenches in France with the Gordon Highlanders, was twice hospitalized with Spanish Flu during the pandemic[12] and was undergoing flight training in the fledgling Royal Air Force (RAF) when the war ended.[8]

After the armistice, he returned to Los Angeles by way of Canada, and soon began a love affair with Pearl Eugenie ("Cissy") Pascal, a married woman 18 years his senior and the stepmother of Gordon Pascal, with whom Chandler had enlisted.[8] Cissy amicably divorced her husband, Julian, in 1920, but Chandler's mother disapproved of the relationship and refused to sanction the marriage. For the next four years Chandler supported both his mother and Cissy. After the death of Florence Chandler on September 26, 1923, he was free to marry Cissy. They were married on February 6, 1924.[8][13] Having begun in 1922 as a bookkeeper and auditor, Chandler was by 1931 a highly paid vice president of the Dabney Oil Syndicate, but his alcoholism, absenteeism, promiscuity with female employees, and threatened suicides[8] contributed to his dismissal a year later.

As a writer[edit]

In straitened financial circumstances during the Great Depression, Chandler turned to his latent writing talent to earn a living, teaching himself to write pulp fiction by studying the Perry Mason stories of Erle Stanley Gardner. Chandler's first professional work, "Blackmailers Don't Shoot", was published in Black Mask magazine in 1933. His first novel, The Big Sleep, was published in 1939, featuring the detective Philip Marlowe, speaking in the first person.

In 1950, Chandler described in a letter to his English publisher, Hamish Hamilton, why he began reading pulp magazines and later wrote for them:

Wandering up and down the Pacific Coast in an automobile I began to read pulp magazines, because they were cheap enough to throw away and because I never had at any time any taste for the kind of thing which is known as women's magazines. This was in the great days of the Black Mask (if I may call them great days) and it struck me that some of the writing was pretty forceful and honest, even though it had its crude aspect. I decided that this might be a good way to try to learn to write fiction and get paid a small amount of money at the same time. I spent five months over an 18,000 word novelette and sold it for $180. After that I never looked back, although I had a good many uneasy periods looking forward.[14]

His second Marlowe novel, Farewell, My Lovely (1940), became the basis for three movie versions adapted by other screenwriters, including the 1944 film Murder My Sweet, which marked the screen debut of the Marlowe character, played by Dick Powell (whose depiction of Marlowe Chandler reportedly applauded). Literary success and film adaptations led to a demand for Chandler himself as a screenwriter. He and Billy Wilder co-wrote Double Indemnity (1944), based on James M. Cain's novel of the same title. The noir screenplay was nominated for an Academy Award. Said Wilder, "I would just guide the structure and I would also do a lot of the dialogue, and he (Chandler) would then comprehend and start constructing too." Wilder acknowledged that the dialogue which makes the film so memorable was largely Chandler’s.

Chandler's only produced original screenplay was The Blue Dahlia (1946). He had not written a denouement for the script and, according to producer John Houseman, Chandler agreed to complete the script only if drunk, which Houseman agreed to. The script gained Chandler's second Academy Award nomination for screenplay.

Chandler collaborated on the screenplay of Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train (1951), an ironic murder story based on Patricia Highsmith's novel, which he thought implausible. Chandler clashed with Hitchcock to such an extent that they stopped talking, especially after Hitchcock heard Chandler had referred to him as "that fat bastard". Hitchcock reportedly made a show of throwing Chandler's two draft screenplays into the studio trash can while holding his nose, but Chandler retained the lead screenwriting credit along with Czenzi Ormonde.

In 1946 the Chandlers moved to La Jolla, California, an affluent coastal neighborhood of San Diego, where Chandler wrote two more Philip Marlowe novels, The Long Goodbye and his last completed work, Playback. The latter was derived from an unproduced courtroom drama screenplay he had written for Universal Studios.

Four chapters of a novel, unfinished at his death, were transformed into a final Philip Marlowe novel, Poodle Springs, by the mystery writer and Chandler admirer Robert B. Parker, in 1989. Parker shares the authorship with Chandler. Parker subsequently wrote a sequel to The Big Sleep entitled Perchance to Dream, which was salted with quotes from the original novel. Chandler's final Marlowe short story, circa 1957, was entitled "The Pencil". It later provided the basis of an episode of the HBO miniseries (1983–86), Philip Marlowe, Private Eye, starring Powers Boothe as Marlowe.

In 2014, "The Princess and the Pedlar" (1917), a previously unknown comic operetta, with libretto by Chandler and music by Julian Pascal, was discovered[15] among the uncatalogued holdings of the Library of Congress. The work was never published or produced. It has been dismissed by the Raymond Chandler estate as "no more than… a curiosity."[16] A small team under the direction of the actor and director Paul Sand is seeking permission to produce the operetta in Los Angeles.

Later life and death[edit]

Cissy Chandler died in 1954, after a long illness. Heartbroken and drunk, Chandler neglected to inter her cremated remains, and they sat for 57 years in a storage locker in the basement of Cypress View Mausoleum.

After Cissy's death, Chandler's loneliness worsened his propensity for clinical depression; he returned to drinking alcohol, never quitting it for long, and the quality and quantity of his writing suffered.[8] In 1955, he attempted suicide. In The Long Embrace: Raymond Chandler and the Woman He Loved, Judith Freeman says it was "a cry for help," given that he called the police beforehand, saying he planned to kill himself. Chandler's personal and professional life were both helped and complicated by the women to whom he was attracted—notably Helga Greene, his literary agent; Jean Fracasse, his secretary; Sonia Orwell (George Orwell's widow); and Natasha Spender (Stephen Spender's wife). Chandler regained his U.S. citizenship in 1956.

After a respite in England, he returned to La Jolla. He died at Scripps Memorial Hospital of pneumonial peripheral vascular shock and prerenal uremia (according to the death certificate) in 1959. Helga Greene inherited Chandler's $60,000 estate, after prevailing in a 1960 lawsuit filed by Fracasse contesting Chandler's holographiccodicil to his will.

Chandler is buried at Mount Hope Cemetery, in San Diego, California.[17] As Frank MacShane noted in his biography, The Life of Raymond Chandler, Chandler wished to be cremated and placed next to Cissy in Cypress View Mausoleum. Instead, he was buried in Mount Hope, because he had left no funeral or burial instructions.[18]

In 2010, Chandler historian Loren Latker, with the assistance of attorney Aissa Wayne (daughter of John Wayne), brought a petition to disinter Cissy's remains and reinter them with Chandler in Mount Hope. After a hearing in September 2010 in San Diego Superior Court, Judge Richard S. Whitney entered an order granting Latker's request.[19]

On February 14, 2011, Cissy's ashes were conveyed from Cypress View to Mount Hope and interred under a new grave marker above Chandler's, as they had wished.[20] About 100 people attended the ceremony, which included readings by the Rev. Randal Gardner, Powers Boothe, Judith Freeman and Aissa Wayne. The shared gravestone reads, "Dead men are heavier than broken hearts", a quotation from The Big Sleep. Chandler's original gravestone, placed by Jean Fracasse, is still at the head of his grave; the new one is at the foot.

Views on pulp fiction[edit]

In his introduction to Trouble Is My Business (1950), a collection of four of his short stories, Chandler provided insight on the formula for the detective story and how the pulp magazines differed from previous detective stories:

The emotional basis of the standard detective story was and had always been that murder will out and justice will be done. Its technical basis was the relative insignificance of everything except the final denouement. What led up to that was more or less passage work. The denouement would justify everything. The technical basis of the Black Mask type of story on the other hand was that the scene outranked the plot, in the sense that a good plot was one which made good scenes. The ideal mystery was one you would read if the end was missing. We who tried to write it had the same point of view as the film makers. When I first went to Hollywood a very intelligent producer told me that you couldn't make a successful motion picture from a mystery story, because the whole point was a disclosure that took a few seconds of screen time while the audience was reaching for its hat. He was wrong, but only because he was thinking of the wrong kind of mystery.

Chandler also described the struggle that writers of pulp fiction had in following the formula demanded by the editors of the pulp magazines:

As I look back on my stories it would be absurd if I did not wish they had been better. But if they had been much better they would not have been published. If the formula had been a little less rigid, more of the writing of that time might have survived. Some of us tried pretty hard to break out of the formula, but we usually got caught and sent back. To exceed the limits of a formula without destroying it is the dream of every magazine writer who is not a hopeless hack.[21]

Critical reception[edit]

Critics and writers, including W. H. Auden, Evelyn Waugh and Ian Fleming, greatly admired Chandler's prose.[8] In a radio discussion with Chandler, Fleming said that Chandler offered "some of the finest dialogue written in any prose today".[22] Contemporary mystery writer Paul Levine has described Chandler's style as the "literary equivalent of a quick punch to the gut."[23] Chandler's swift-moving, hardboiled style was inspired mostly by Dashiell Hammett, but his sharp and lyrical similes are original: "The muzzle of the Luger looked like the mouth of the Second Street tunnel"; "He had a heart as big as one of Mae West's hips"; "Dead men are heavier than broken hearts"; "I went back to the seasteps and moved down them as cautiously as a cat on a wet floor." Chandler's writing redefined the private eye fiction genre, led to the coining of the adjective "Chandleresque," and inevitably became the subject of parody and pastiche. Yet the detective Philip Marlowe is not a stereotypical tough guy, but a complex, sometimes sentimental man with few friends, who attended university, who speaks some Spanish and sometimes admires Mexicans, and who is a student of chess and classical music. He is a man who refuses a prospective client’s fee for a job he considers unethical.

The high regard in which Chandler is generally held today is in contrast to the critical sniping that stung the author during his lifetime. In a March 1942 letter to Blanche Knopf, published in Selected Letters of Raymond Chandler, he wrote, "The thing that rather gets me down is that when I write something that is tough and fast and full of mayhem and murder, I get panned for being tough and fast and full of mayhem and murder, and then when I try to tone down a bit and develop the mental and emotional side of a situation, I get panned for leaving out what I was panned for putting in the first time."

Although his work enjoys general acclaim today, Chandler has been criticized for certain aspects of his writing. The Washington Post reviewer Patrick Anderson described his plots as "rambling at best and incoherent at worst" and criticized Chandler's treatment of black, female, and homosexual characters, calling him a "rather nasty man at times".[24] Anderson nevertheless praised Chandler as "probably the most lyrical of the major crime writers".[25]

Chandler’s short stories and novels are evocatively written, conveying the time, place and ambiance of Los Angeles and environs in the 1930s and 1940s.[8] The places are real, if pseudonymous: Bay City is Santa Monica, Gray Lake is Silver Lake, and Idle Valley a synthesis of wealthy San Fernando Valley communities.

Playback is the only one of his novels not to have been cinematically adapted. Arguably the most notable adaptation is The Big Sleep (1946), by Howard Hawks, with Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe. William Faulkner was a co-writer of the screenplay. Chandler's few screenwriting efforts and the cinematic adaptation of his novels proved stylistically and thematically influential on the American film noir genre. Notable for its revised take on both the Marlowe character, transplanting the novel to the 1970s, is Robert Altman's 1973 neo-noir adaptation of The Long Goodbye.

Chandler was also a perceptive critic of pulp fiction; his essay "The Simple Art of Murder" is the canonical essay in the field.


Main article: Raymond Chandler bibliography


  1. ^Chandler, Raymond (1950). Trouble Is My Business. Vintage Books, 1988, "About the Author".
  2. ^Pronzini, p. 169,
  3. ^"Raymond Thornton Chandler". Retrieved 2016-02-20. 
  4. ^"Florence Dart Thornton Chandler (1864 - 1923) - Find A Grave Memorial". 2010-12-02. Retrieved 2016-02-20. 
  5. ^"Chapter One Raymond Chandler". The New York Times. Retrieved June 2, 2014. 
  6. ^"Blue Plaque for Raymond Chandler". English Heritage. 2014-10-17. Retrieved 2016-02-20. 
  7. ^"Plattsmouth, Nebraska", Census, US, 1900 
  8. ^ abcdefghiIyer, Pico (December 6, 2007). "The Knight of Sunset Boulevard". New York Review of Books. pp. 31–33. 
  9. ^"Raymond Chandler". Waterford Ireland. Tripod. Retrieved 2012-07-19. 
  10. ^Chandler 1962, p. 24.
  11. ^"Florence arrives", Passenger Manifest SS Merion, December 1912 
  12. ^
  13. ^Raymond Chandler 's Shamus Town] Timeline and Residences pages using official government sources (death certificate, census, military & civil – city & phone directories).
  14. ^Chandler, Raymond (1969). p. vii.
  15. ^Weinman, Sarah (2 December 2014), "Unpublished Raymond Chandler Work Discovered in Library of Congress", The Guardian, London, archived from the original on 2 December 2014 
  16. ^Cooper, Kim. "Goblin Wine". Archived from the original on 2 December 2014. Retrieved 30 December 2014. 
  17. ^Raymond Thornton Chandler at Find a Grave
  18. ^Hiney (1997). pp. 275–276.
  19. ^Bell, Diane (2010-09-08). "Ashes of Chandler's wife to join him for eternity". Retrieved 2011-11-26.
  20. ^Bell, Diane (2011-02-14). "Raymond Chandler and His Wife, Cissy, Are Finally Reunited". Retrieved 2011-11-26.
  21. ^Chandler (1950). pp. viii–ix.
  22. ^"Archive – James Bond – Ian Fleming and Raymond Chandler". BBC. Retrieved 2016-02-20. 
  23. ^Paul Levine (2014-12-16). "Hard-Boiled Dialogue: From Philip Marlowe to Jake Lassiter". Retrieved 2016-02-20. 
  24. ^Woods, Paula L. (March 11, 2007) "Criminal Minds,"The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on September 8, 2017. Sante, Luc. “Rising Crime.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 17 Feb. 2007,
  25. ^Butki, Scott. (August 2, 2007) "An Interview With Patrick Anderson, Author of The Triumph of the Thriller: How Cops, Crooks, and Cannibals Captured Popular Fiction, Part Two,"Blog Critics. Retrieved on September 8, 2017.


  • Chandler, Raymond (1950). Trouble is My Business. Vintage Books, 1988.
  • Chandler, Raymond (1962). Raymond Chandler Speaking. Dorothy Gardiner and Kathrine Sorley Walker, eds. Houghton Mifflin. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-520-20835-3.
  • Chandler, Raymond, (1969). Forward by Powell, Lawrence Clark. The Raymond Chandler Omnibus, Borzoi Books.
  • Day, Barry, (2015). "The World of Raymond Chandler: In His Own Words". Vintage Books.
  • Hiney, Tom (1997). Raymond Chandler: A Biography. Grove Press.
  • Pronzini, Bill; Jack Adrian (eds). (1995). Hard-Boiled, An Anthology of American Crime Stories, Oxford University Press.

Further reading[edit]

  • Bruccoli, Matthew J., ed. (1973). Chandler Before Marlowe: Raymond Chandler's Early Prose and Poetry, 1908–1912. Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press.
  • Chandler, Raymond (1976). The Blue Dahlia (screenplay). Carbondale and Edwardsville, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press.
  • Chandler, Raymond (1985). Raymond Chandler's Unknown Thriller (unfilmed screenplay for Playback). New York: The Mysterious Press.
  • Dorothy Gardiner and Katherine Sorley Walker, eds. (1962), Raymond Chandler Speaking. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  • Freeman, Judith (2007). The Long Embrace: Raymond Chandler and the Woman He Loved. N.Y.: Pantheon. ISBN 978-0-375-42351-2.
  • Gross, Miriam (1977). The World of Raymond Chandler. New York: A & W Publishers.
  • Hiney, Tom (1999). Raymond Chandler. New York: Grove Press. ISBN 0-8021-3637-0.
  • Hiney, Tom and MacShane, Frank, eds. (2000). The Raymond Chandler Papers: Selected Letters and Nonfiction, 1909–1959. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press.
  • Howe, Alexander N. "The Detective and the Analyst: Truth, Knowledge, and Psychoanalysis in the Hard-Boiled Fiction of Raymond Chandler." Clues: A Journal of Detection 24.4 (Summer 2006): 15-29.
  • Howe, Alexander N. (2008). "It Didn't Mean Anything: A Psychoanalytic Reading of American Detective Fiction". North Carolina: McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-3454-6.
  • MacShane, Frank (1976). The Life of Raymond Chandler. New York: E.P. Dutton.
  • MacShane, Frank (1976). The Notebooks of Raymond Chandler & English Summer: A Gothic Romance. New York: The Ecco Press.
  • MacShane, Frank, ed. (1981). Selected Letters of Raymond Chandler. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Moss, Robert (2002.) "Raymond Chandler: A Literary Reference" New York: Carrol & Graf.
  • Swirski, Peter (2005). "Raymond Chandler's Aesthetics of Irony" in From Lowbrow to Nobrow. Montreal, London: McGill-Queen's University. ISBN 978-0-7735-3019-5.
  • Ward, Elizabeth and Alain Silver (1987). Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles. Woodstock, N.Y.: Overlook Press. ISBN 0-87951-351-9.

External links[edit]

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