“From 30 feet away she looked like a lot of class. From 10 feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from 30 feet away.” The High Window
“I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun. I put them on and went out of the room.” Farewell, My Lovely
“It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained-glass window.” Farewell, My Lovely
These quotes are from Raymond Chandler, the archetypal hard-boiled writer who could spin a metaphor out of thin air and watch it dance, the side-talking, whiskey drinking hood with the pen of gold. Sounds about right doesn’t it? You might be led into thinking that Chandler had grown up in the mean backstreets of L.A. and learned to cuss before he could talk. You might think he knew his way around a handgun or two. Was he an ex-cop, a gangster, or a private detective, before he began writing stories that the pulp magazines lapped up? Actually he was none of these things.
Raymond Thornton Chandler was born in 1888 in Chicago, Illinois. His father left the family not long afterward. When Raymond Chandler was 12 years old, his mother packed up their belonging and moved the family to London, England, in order that young Raymond could get the best education going. He enrolled in Dulwich College, London (a private school whose alumni include the authors P. G. Wodehouse and C. S. Forester) and received a classical education. Instead of going to university he spent some time in Paris and Munich trying to perfect his language skills.