4. Graham Greene

Most celebrated books: Stamboul Train (1932), Brighton Rock (1938)

Life story: In all cases of literary greatness, there’s an inherent skill at work inside the scribes; from the moment they’re squeezed out of their mother’s privates, natural born writers harbor the knack for storytelling, whether it emerges on its own or needs a few classes and scholarly professors to pull it out. In most instances, though, life experience plays an equal, if not bigger, role, such as the chops of one Graham Greene.

Known for worldly thriller novels like Brighton Rock and international potboiler scripts such as the one used for the Orson Welles-starring classic The Third Man, Greene benefitted greatly from his curiousity about settings beyond the streets of his native Hertfordshire, England, surroundings. Original tales emerged from Greene’s extended stays in Haiti, Liberia, and Mexico, and he even spent some time working for the M16, Britain’s answer to the CIA. Imagine the stories that he didn’t put down on paper.

Aside from his globetrotting pursuits, Greene was also quick to smash women other than his wife, a streak of infidelity commonly attributed to a bipolar disorder. Extensive traveling, secretive intelligence-gathering, and numerous sexual partners—that’s right, Greene was like James Bond, only armed with a typewriter instead of a pistol.