"He had been a Jew once, but a hairdresser and a surgeon had altered that"
Creative Commons AttributionBook - Credit: chrisjohnbeckett

Greene became a Catholic in 1926, and some critics and biographers have suggested that his work contained overtones of anti-semitism. Others argued that he was merely capturing the spirit of the times in which he was writing.

Following an influx after the First World War, by the 1930s Jewish people began to enjoy increasing levels of tolerance in Britain. However, events like the Battle of Cable Street in 1936 demonstrated that deep-seated prejudices still prevailed when Brighton Rock was written.  The government refused to ban a march organised by the British Union of Fascists against minority and ethnic groups, and the widespread outrage at this decision led to a clash between police and protestors. When World War 2 broke out, Britain refused to allow Jewish refugees into the country after the Evian Conference of 1938, and arrested and imprisoned around 74,000 foreign citizens, mainly Jewish.

In 1995 The New York Review of Books published a fierce debate between Michael Shelden - who wrote the somewhat controversial biography 'Graham Greene: The Enemy Within' - and the novelist David Lodge, on Shelden's claims that 'Greene tried to stir up antagonism toward the “alien” community of Jewish immigrants and refugees in England.'