Greene greatly admired R K Narayan and helped publish his works in Britain. The remarkable fact about their relationship was that Greene and Narayan met only once,briefly, in London in 1964. The friendship began in 1934 when Greene happened to come across a manuscript of Swami and Friends. Greene was impressed and passed it on to Hamish Hamilton. He also begana correspondence with R K Narayan. The correspondence lasted until his death, with Greene taking around fifteen years to switch from Dear Mr. Narayan and Graham Greene, to Dear Narayan and Graham.Greene ( rather uncharacteristically gentle ) suggested a few alterations in the Indian Novelist's English at the beginning of the correspondence, a practice that lasted for half a century. Greeneoffered Narayan solace when the latter's works did not do well initially, besides discouraging him from considering the turning of his novels into screenplays.
While Narayan's novels are much gentlerthan most of Greene's, Malgudi, the fictional town in which most of the former's novels are set, seemed to Greene "more familiar than Battersea or the Euston Road".
His letter to Narayan, when theIndian's wife passed away in 1937 was particularly solicitous. Greene wrote: "To send the sympathy of strangers at such a cruel time seems like a mockery. But I've been happily married now for a longtime, and I can imagine how appalling everything must seem to you now. I don't suppose you'll write again for months, but eventually you will, not be- cause you are just a good writer (there arehundreds), but because you are one of the finest. We still hope we shall see you, here or in India. If there is no war."
R K Narayan's Works
1935 Swami and Friends
1937 TheBachelor of Arts
1938 The Dark Room
1945 The English Teacher
1949 Mr. Sampath - The Printer of Malgudi
1952 The Financial Expert
1955 Waiting for the Mahatma...