Chandler, Raymond Thornton, 1888–1959, American author, b. Chicago, educated in England. After World War I, he entered the oil business in California. Bankrupt during the Depression, he published his first of many detective stories in The Black Mask magazine (1933). His novels include The Big Sleep (1939), Farewell My Lovely (1940), The High Window (1942), and Playback (1958). Well plotted and brutally realistic, Chandler's novels depict the seedy lowlife of Los Angeles. They all feature Philip Marlowe, a hard-boiled yet honorable private detective with a brash sense of humor who became the prototype for the tough guy private eye of many subsequent American detective novels. Chandler also wrote screenplays and essays.
See his collected early works, ed. by M. J. Bruccoli, Chandler before Marlowe (2d ed. 1973); Stories and Early Novels (1995) and Later Novels and Other Writings (1995), both ed. by F. MacShane; his letters, ed. by F. MacShane (1981), The Raymond Chandler Papers: Selected Letters and Nonfiction, 1909–1959 (2001), ed. by T. Hiney and F. MacShane; biographies by F. MacShane (1976, repr. 1986) and T. Hiney (1997); studies by J. Speir (1981) and W. Marling (1986).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.