Alan Redway was born in Wimbledon, England, on January 6, 1911. He received a classical education at Rutlish, a public school in Merton. On graduation, at the age of seventeen, he joined Barclays Bank where he worked until his retirement. During the Second World War, Redway served in the British Royal Engineers and Intelligence Corps in Karachi. Over the years, Redway continued to some extent with his father's business - the latter died when Alan was four years old, and his mother Agnes carried on the family business until her death in 1940. Redway began collecting Graham Greene first editions after the war, and although still a banker by profession, he devoted a great part of his life to writing a comprehensive bibliography of Greene's works.
The background to the bibliography is explained in a few key letters written by Alan Redway to Philip Stratford, editor of “The Portable Graham Greene,” and to Nicolas Barker; as well as a letter to Redway from John Bell of the Oxford University Press. Briefly, in 1949 Redway suggested to Greene his idea of writing a comprehensive bibliography which the latter approved. In 1953, Greene, who had heard about a similar project by Neil Brennan, professor of English at Villanova University, Pennsylvania, suggested a collaboration to which Redway readily agreed. At this time, it seems Rupert Hart-Davis, founder of the Soho Bibliography Series, was willing to publish an “interim” bibliography - Redway's work could not be included in the Soho series because at that time it only published posthumous bibliographies. A draft of the manuscript was eventually sent to John Hayward in 1956, then editor of “The Book Collector” (Nicolas Barker was to succeed him after his death in 1965), but was judged in need of much revision.
In 1961, Redway invited Cecil Woolf, a London bookseller, to be a third collaborator on the bibliography. It was hoped that Woolf would be able to help in the revision, especially in regard to the 'C' List; however this plan did not move forward. By 1978, the Soho Bibliography Series had begun to publish bibliographies of living authors, as well as having merged with Oxford University Press (OUP), with Nicolas Barker as general adviser. In a letter to Redway, John Bell, senior editor for the academic English and art publications of OUP, expressed interest in publishing the bibliography. In April 1980, a formal memorandum of agreement was signed by OUP, Redway and Brennan as coauthors, for the publication of “A Bibliography of Graham Greene.”