Writers

looked after.jpg

Patricia Highsmith

1921-1995

Patricia Highsmith (January 19, 1921 – February 4, 1995) was an American novelist and short story writer widely known for her psychological thrillers, including her series of five novels featuring the character Tom Ripley. Highsmith was born Mary Patricia Plangman in Fort Worth, Texas. She was an only child, her parents divorced ten days before their daughter's birth.

In 1927, Highsmith, her mother and her adoptive stepfather, artist Stanley Highsmith, whom her mother had married in 1924, moved to New York City. When she was 12 years old, Highsmith was in kinship care, sent to Fort Worth and lived with her grandmother for a year. She called this the "saddest year" of her life and felt "abandoned" by her mother. She wrote 22 novels and numerous short stories throughout her career spanning nearly five decades, and her work has led to more than two dozen film adaptations. Her writing derived influence from existentialist literature, and questioned notions of identity and popular morality. She was dubbed "the poet of apprehension" by novelist Graham Greene. Her first novel, Strangers on a Train, has been adapted for stage and screen numerous times, notably by Alfred Hitchcock in 1951. Her 1955 novel The Talented Mr. Ripley who was orphaned at 5 years old and in kinship care, raised by cold-hearted aunt Dottie, who mocked him as a "sissy"; has been adapted numerous times for film, theatre, and radio. Writing under the pseudonym "Claire Morgan", Highsmith published the first lesbian novel with a happy ending, The Price of Salt, in 1952, republished 38 years later as Carol under her own name and later adapted into a 2015 film.