The Ministry of Fear

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First edition

The Ministry of Fear is a 1943 novel written by Graham Greene. It was first published in Britain by William Heinemann. It was made into the 1944 film Ministry of Fear, directed by Fritz Lang and starring Ray Milland.

It revolves around the relationship between Love and Fear. Whilst adopting the thriller form, with a heritage back to the espionage chase novel that is John Buchan's The 39 Steps, it has considerable depth as it reflects on individual deaths in the midst of wholesale war, memory, fear, love and loss.

Plot summary[edit]

In London, during the Blitz, Arthur Rowe wins a cake at a charity fête. He doesn't know the cake was given to him by mistake and contains a secret message. From the very moment he takes his prize, Rowe is caught up in an international spy ring acting on behalf of Nazi Germany. The action plays out as bombs pound the city, and who is friend and who foe becomes increasingly uncertain.

The novel title was later used by Irish poet Seamus Heaney as a title about his time in school.