Patricia Highsmith

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Highsmith, Patricia,

1921–95, American novelist, b. Fort Worth, Tex., as Mary Patricia Plangman, grad. Barnard College (B.A. 1942). She first traveled to Europe in 1949 and moved there in 1963, living in Italy, France, and Switzerland. After the publication of her first novel, Strangers on a Train (1950, film by Alfred HitchcockHitchcock, Sir Alfred,
1899–1980, English-American film director, writer, and producer, b. London. Hitchcock began his career as a director in 1925 and became prominent with The 39 Steps (1935) and The Lady Vanishes (1938).
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 1951), she was acclaimed a master of the novel of psychological menace. Dubbed a "poet of apprehension" by Graham GreeneGreene, Graham
(Henry Graham Greene), 1904–91, English novelist and playwright. Although most of his works combine elements of the detective story, the spy thriller, and the psychological drama, his novels are essentially parables of the damned.
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, Highsmith wrote more than 20 novels, the best known of which feature a handsome psychopath named Tom Ripley as their antihero. These include The Talented Mister Ripley (1955, films 1960 and 1999), Ripley's Game (1974), The Boy Who Followed Ripley (1980), and Ripley under Water (1991). In addition to her crime fiction, Highsmith wrote a novel of lesbian love, The Price of Salt (1952, originally pub. under the pseud. Claire Morgan), which was filmed as Carol (2015). She also wrote the nonfiction Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction (1966, rev. ed. 1981) and the posthumously published novel Small g (1995, repr. 2004). Her chilling tales of crime and cruelty appeared in a number of collections as well as in her selected (2001) and uncollected stories (2002).


See The Complete Ripley Novels (2008); biographies by R. Harrison (1997), A. Wilson (2003), and J. Schenkar (2009); study by N. Mawer (2004).

Highsmith, (Mary) Patricia (b. Plangman) (Claire Morgan, pen name)

(1921–  ) writer; born in Fort Worth, Texas. She was raised by her grandparents until she was six, then lived with her mother and stepfather, Stanley Highsmith. She studied at Barnard (B.A., 1942), and worked as a comic strip artist. Her first novel, Strangers on a Train (1950), was made into a film (1951) directed by Alfred Hitchcock with a screenplay by Raymond Chandler. A prolific writer, she is considered a master of the suspense novel and is praised for her psychological insights. She spent much of her adult life in Europe and was based in Switzerland.