Though she penned such great psychological crime novels as Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley, Patricia Highsmith's gifts went largely unrecognized by American readers until recently. Fortunately, Highsmith's bizarre, subtly shaded novels were too good to remain obscure.
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Also Known As:
Mary Patricia Plangman (birth name); Claire Morgan (pen name)
Date of Birth:
January 19, 1921
Place of Birth:
Fort Worth, Texas
Date of Death:
February 4, 1995
|Place of Death:
B.A., Barnard College, 1942
O. Henry Prize for "The Heroine," 1946; Edgar Award for The Talented Mr. Ripley, 1956; Silver Dagger Award for The Two Faces of January, 1956
|In The Talented Mr. Ripley, a wealthy shipping magnate -- thinking Tom Ripley is a college chum of his son's -- pays Ripley to find the son abroad and convince him to come back to the States to take part in the family business. The conceit parallels a similar set-up in Henry James's The Ambassadors: An American widow sends her fiance to bring her son back from Paris. Highsmith was an admirer of James and acknowledged the similarity by having Mr. Greenleaf allude to it in the novel.|
|A New Collection||The Hitchcock Classic|
|Nothing That Meets the Eye: The Uncollected Stories of Patricia Highsmith|
Highsmith died in 1995, but two new collections of her short stories have added a new breadth to her work. Nothing That Meets the Eye features 28 vintage stories, many never before published, and occasionally shows a sweeter side to the author. Selected Stories, published in 2001, likewise displays Highsmith's talent for tight, strange, haunting stories.
|Strangers on a Train|
Highsmith's first novel became the classic 1951 movie directed by Alfred Hitchock (and scripted by, among others, the legendary Raymond Chandler). As with Ripley, Highsmith shows her ability to reveal the sociopathic personalities lurking beneath everyday exchanges when a happenstance train conversation leads to murder.
|Photo by Marion Ettlinger||