Spoiled Children of Divorce


Exemplary Children of Divorce – Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler is a 20th Century detective novel writer written in a “hard-boiled style.” Some of the titles were The Big Sleep, Farewell My Lovely, and The Long Good-Bye. One might expect that a writer would discuss his childhood a bit but in the book Raymond Chandler Speaking (Gardner and Walker, p.20) he gives two liners to each parent.

His father: “My father was a graduate of Penn, a civil engineer. Divorced when I was seven…Never saw my father again.”

His Mother: “My Mother soon after returned to England to live with her mother and manage the house, and of course I went with her.”

Chandler grew up in Chicago until he was 7 years old. His Father worked for the railroads and was drunk most of the time. Chandler wrote that he was “found drunk if he was found at all.” (Hiney, Tom. Raymond Chandler: A Biography, p. 4).

Chandler’s Mother was born in Ireland and they moved to Ireland to live with family after his Father disappeared for the last time. They had lost their house and were living in a hotel where the boy caught Scarlett Fever. Chandler’s Mother never talked about his Father again.

Chandler said that he had wished his Mother had remarried in London. “I know that my mother had affairs — she wa a very beautiful woman– and the only thing that I felt to be wrong was that she refused to marry again for fear a step-father would not treat me kindly, since my father was such a swine.” (Honey, Tom. Raymond Chandler: A Biography, p. 10)

Chandler had generous relatives and grew up in Britain. He and his Mother returned to the United States. He worked at several professions, getting fired for drinking himself. He didn’t write his first story until 1933 at Age 45. His first novel, The Big Sleep, was published when he was 51.

Chandler fell in love with the step-mother of a friend who was 18 years his senior. His Mother forbade the relationship so Chandler didn’t marry Cissy until after her death. When his wife died in 1954 Chandler attempted suicide.

Chandler died in 1959 of pneumonia which was brought on by alcoholism.


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