Detective novelist and screenwriter Raymond Chandler (1888-1959) was born on this day in Chicago and raised in Ireland and England. "The swans of our childhood," recalled the witty cynic, "were probably just pigeons."
Chandler is best known for creating Philip Marlowe, a philosophical, wise-cracking private detective. "When in doubt," the writer explained, "have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand."
Chandler's personality seeped into the character as he modeled his writing style after Alexandre Dumas, Charles Dickens, and Joseph Conrad. His pulp fiction gave birth to what became known as film noir and is credited for inspiring the classic film, Chinatown (1974).
"When a writer writes a book, he takes nothing from anyone. He adds to what exists.... There is never enough good writing to go around," he believed. "The more you reason the less you create."
In 1939, Chandler finished his first novel, The Big Sleep, which featured clever dialogue, strong characters, and the hero Philip Marlowe, 30, who explained being single: "I'm unmarried because I don't like policemen's wives." The 1946 film adaptation, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, is a classic.
"The world never hears of its greatest men; the men it calls great are just ahead enough of the average to stand out, but not far ahead enough to be remote," Chandler said.
Beat down the door and let opportunity in.