Highsmith, Patricia

BORN 19 Jan 1921, Fort Worth, Texas - DIED 4 Feb 1995, Locarno, Ticino
BIRTH NAME Plangman, Mary Patricia
GRAVE LOCATION Tegna, Ticino: Cimitero ((ashes))

Patricia Highsmith was an author of psychological thrillers. She was the daughter of the artists Jay Bernard Plangman (1889-1975) and Mary Coates (1895-1991). their parents divorced ten days before she was born. Her mother married another artist, Stanley Highsmith, in 1924 and in 1927 the family moved to New York. When she was twelve years old she lived with her grandmother in Forth Worth for a year. She studied English composition, writing plays and short story prose at Barnard College and graduated in 1942. She applied for jobs at several magazines but they turned her down. In 1943 she had an affair with the artist Allela Cornell and during her life she was mostly in relationships with women. Another lover was the psychoanalyst Kathryn Hamill Cohen.

In 1948 the Yaddo's artist retreat engaged her and there she worked on her first novel "Strangers on a Train". In enjoyed a modest success after its publication in 1950. When Alfred Hitchcock turned it into a movie in 1951 her reputation rose. In September of that year she started an affair with sociologist Ellen Blumenthal Hill that lasted until at least 1953. From 1959 to 1961 she was in a relationship with the novelist Marijane Meaker.

Her second novel "The Price of Salt" was published in 1952 under the name Claire Morgan. It was a lesbian story with a happy ending and only late in life she acknowledged that she was the author. In the early 1950s her short stories were published in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. In 1955 her novel "The Talented Mr. Ripley" was published, the first of five novels about the charming killer Tim Ripley. In 1960 Alain Delon played Ripley in "Plein soleil".

Her work was more popular in Europe than in the USA and around 1963 she moved to Europe. From 1963 to 1967 she lived in the UK and from 1967 to 1981 in France near Fontainebleau. In 1981 she moved to the Italian part of Switzerland. When Marijane Meaker met her again in the late 1980s she was shocked how her personality had changed for the worse. During her career Highsmith wrote 22 novels and many short stories. In 1995 she died in a hospital in Locarno.

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The grave of Patricia Highsmith at the Cimitero of Tegna, Ticino.
Picture by Androom (17 Feb 2019)


The grave of Patricia Highsmith at the Cimitero of the Chiesa di Tegna, Ticino.
Picture by Androom (17 Feb 2019)


Patricia Highsmith - Wikipedia

Hilbert, David

Published: 16 Mar 2019
Last update: 29 Nov 2023