To figure out how Graham Greene’s travels introduced him to the characters in Brighton Rock, one will probably need to look into Greene’s real life and see how his adventures relate to the novel.
To do so, try consulting a Greene biography. In January of 2021, a new Greene biography—The Unquiet Englishman by Richard Greene (no relation)—was published. This acclaimed book provides key information about Greene’s life and its connection to Brighton Rock.
While reading through Richard Greene’s biography, one might find that the characters of Brighton Rock come less from his travels and more from his knowledge and general experiences. For instance, Richard Greene draws a link between the conflicting Catholicism of Pinkie Brown and Greene’s stormy relationship to religion.
In Brighton Rock, Pinkie develops strong feelings for a Catholic person named Rose. Eventually, Pinkie and Rose marry. In real life, Greene developed strong feelings for a Catholic person named Vivien Dayrell-Browning. To marry Vivian, Greene converted to Catholicism. As with Pinkie, Greene thought that Catholicism was punitive and that God would somehow penalize him for his sex life.
When it comes to other characters in Brighton Rock, Richard Greene reveals that they came to Greene not through travels but by keeping up to date with the sordid, violent developments in that part of Britain.
Charles (Fred) Hale’s murder was supposedly based off the real 1928 murder of Ernest Friend-Smith. Additionally, Fred’s mission in Brighton—to plant cards for a newspaper promotion—reflect Greene’s awareness of the length that real-life newspapers would go to for readers and publicity.