Catherine Walston: The Beautiful Inspiration for “The End of the Affair”

As we discussed on the podcast, Graham Greene’s masterpiece The End of the Affair had a real-life basis: Greene’s affair with Catherine Walston, an American beauty whose “zeal for Catholicism was matched only by her insatiable lust.” (Quite a description!)

And of course, the Hollywood versions of Sarah (the character inspired by Walston) do justice to her beauty. Julianne Moore is perfectly cast: attractive, sure, but also smart and sensitive. Her beauty is a thinking man’s beauty, if that’s the right way to put it. She has depth. Character. Soul. That’s perfect for Sarah, who’s both pure and impure.

What about the real-life Catherine Walston? Can she measure up?

I’ll let you be the judge:


Good lord! She looks improbably beautiful. How was she not herself a movie star?

Here’s a side-by-side of her and Greene:


So beautiful, so doomed, so much heartbreak and sadness.

Look, I know this is superficial…but even so…it’s hard not to be swayed by superficiality sometimes.  We unbeautiful, uninteresting people sometimes need to just sit back and marvel at the lives led by others.

It’s okay. [Sigh.] It will all be okay.

Listen to our conversation about Graham Greene’s life and works or check out the other installments in the History of Literature podcast.


The History of Literature Episode 39 – Reconsidering Graham Greene


Jacke and Mike reconsider the life and works of the great twentieth-century British novelist Graham Greene.  Works discussed include The End of the Affair, The Power and the Glory,The Quiet American, Babbling April, and The Third Man.


You can find more literary discussion at and more episodes of the series at

Contact the host at or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).