Partner Allela Cornell, Virginia Kent Catherwood, Kathryn Hamill Cohen, Rolf Tietgens, Marijane Meaker
508 W Broadway Ave, Fort Worth, TX 76104
1-7 Bank St, New York, NY 10014, Stati Uniti
48 Grove St, New York, NY 10014, Stati Uniti
345 E. 57th Street, 10022, NYC, NY, USA
Barnard College, 3009 Broadway, New York, NY 10027, Stati Uniti
Columbia University, 116th St & Broadway, New York, NY 10027, Stati Uniti
Yaddo, 312 Union Ave, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866, Stati Uniti
Cimitero di Tegna, Tegna, Svizzera
Patricia Highsmith (January 19, 1921 – February 4, 1995) was an American novelist and short story writer best known for her psychological thrillers, including her series of five novels based on the character of Tom Ripley. She wrote 22 novels and numerous short stories throughout her career, and her work has led to more than two dozen film adaptations. Her writing derived influence from existentialist literature, and interrogated 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'' has been adopted 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'', republished 38 years later as ''Carol'' under her own name and later adapted into a 2015 film. Tereska Torres is named by literary scholar Yvonne Keller as one of a small group of writers whose work formed the subgenre of "pro-lesbian" pulp fiction; others include Ann Bannon, Sloane Britain, Paula Christian, Joan Ellis, March Hastings, Marjorie Lee, Della Martin, Rea Michaels, Claire Morgan, Vin Packer, Randy Salem, Artemis Smith, Valerie Taylor, and Shirley Verel.
Highsmith was born Mary Patricia Plangman in Fort Worth, Texas. She was the only child of artists Jay Bernard Plangman (1889–1975), who was of German descent, and Mary Plangman (''née'' Coates; September 13, 1895 – March 12, 1991). The couple divorced ten days before their daughter's birth. When she was four years old, she was stricken with Spanish flu, one of the most lethal pandemics in history.
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 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 returned to New York to continue living with her mother and stepfather, primarily in Manhattan, but also in Astoria, Queens.
According to Highsmith, her mother once told her that she had tried to abort her by drinking turpentine, although a biography of Highsmith indicates Jay Plangman tried to persuade his wife to have the abortion but she refused. Highsmith never resolved this love–hate relationship, which reportedly haunted her for the rest of her life, and which she fictionalized in "The Terrapin," her short story about a young boy who stabs his mother to death. Highsmith's mother predeceased her by only four years, dying at the age of 95.
Patricia Highsmith by Allela Cornell
Harper & Brothers Patricia Highsmith 1942 Gelatin silver print © Patricia Highsmith Collection, Swiss National Library / Swiss Literary Archives, Bern
345 E. 57th Street, 10022, NYC, NY, USA
48 Grove St
1-7 Bank St
Highsmith's grandmother taught her to read at an early age, and she made good use of her grandmother's extensive library. At the age of nine, she found a resemblance to her own imaginative life in the case histories of ''The Human Mind'' by Karl Menninger, a popularizer of Freudian analysis.
Many of Highsmith's 22 novels were set in Greenwich Village, where she lived at 48 Grove Street from 1940 to 1942, before moving to 345 E. 57th Street. 1942, Highsmith graduated from Barnard College, where she studied English composition, playwriting, and short story prose. After graduating from college, and despite endorsements from "highly placed professionals," she applied without success for a job at publications such as ''Harper's Bazaar'', ''Vogue'', ''Mademoiselle'', ''Good Housekeeping'', ''Time'', ''Fortune'', and ''The New Yorker''.
In May 1943 Highsmith fell in love with Allela Cornell: “I love Allela and God within her…“[S]he is the best!” She also fell in love with Allela’s girlfriend, Tex Eversol. Allela painted a prophetic portrait of Highsmith, which Highsmith kept all her life. Cornell committed suicide in 1946 by drinking nitric acid.
Virginia Kent Catherwood was a Philadelphia socialite six years older than Patricia Highsmith with whom the author had a love affair in the 1944. The character of Carol Aird in the novel "The Price of Salt" and movie Carol (2015) was inspired by her. Catherwood lost custody of her daughter after her homosexuality was used against her with a taped recording of a lesbian liaison she had in a hotel room.
Based on the recommendation from Truman Capote, Highsmith was accepted by the Yaddo artist's retreat during the summer of 1948, where she worked on her first novel, ''Strangers on a Train''. 
During her stay at Yaddo, Highsmith met writer Marc Brandel, son of author J.D. Beresford. Even though she told him about her homosexuality, they soon entered into a short-lived relationship. He convinced her to visit him in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where he introduced her to Ann Smith, a painter and designer with a previous métier as a ''Vogue'' fashion model, and the two became involved. After Smith left Provincetown, Highsmith felt she was "in prison" with Brandel and told him she was leaving. "[B]ecause of that I have to sleep with him, and only the fact that it is the last night strengthens me to bear it." Highsmith, who had never been sexually exclusive with Brandel, resented having sex with him. Highsmith temporarily broke off the relationship with Brandel and continued to be involved with several women, reuniting after the well-received publication of his new novel. Beginning November 30, 1948, and continuing for the next six months, Highsmith underwent psychoanalysis in an effort "to regularize herself sexually" so she could marry Brandel. The analysis was brought to a stop by Highsmith, after which she ended her relationship with him.
After ending her engagement to Marc Brandel, she had an affair with psychoanalyst Kathryn Hamill Cohen, the wife of British publisher Dennis Cohen and founder of Cresset Press, which later published ''Strangers on a Train''.
To help pay for the twice-a-week therapy sessions, Highsmith had taken a sales job during Christmas rush season in the toy section of Bloomingdale's department store. Ironically, it was during this attempt to "cure" her homosexuality that Highsmith was inspired to write her semi-autobiographical novel ''The Price of Salt'', in which two women meet in a department store and begin a passionate affair. 
In early September 1951, she began an affair with sociologist Ellen Blumenthal Hill, traveling back and forth to Europe to meet with her. The American Ellen Blumenthal Hill and French-born Marion Aboudaram, were the most passionate and loving of the Patricia Highsmith's life. When Highsmith and Hill came to New York in early May 1953, their affair ostensibly "in a fragile state," Highsmith began an "impossible" affair with the German homosexual photographer Rolf Tietgens, who had played a "sporadic, intense, and unconsummated role in her emotional life since 1943." She was reportedly attracted to Tietgens on account of his homosexuality, confiding that she felt with him "as if he is another girl, or a singularly innocent man." Tietgens shot several nude photographs of Highsmith, but only one has survived, torn in half at the waist so that only her upper body is visible. She dedicated ''The Two Faces of January'' (1964) to Tietgens.
In the late 1950s, Highsmith was briefly involved with Ronald Blythe. Between 1959 and 1961, Highsmith was in love with author Marijane Meaker.  Meaker wrote lesbian stories under the pseudonym "Ann Aldrich" and mystery/suspense fiction as "Vin Packer," and later wrote young adult fiction as "M.E. Kerr." In the late 1980s, after 27 years of separation, Highsmith began corresponding with Meaker again, and one day showed up on Meaker's doorstep, slightly drunk and ranting bitterly. Meaker later said she was horrified at how Highsmith's personality had changed.
Patricia Highsmith was sexually attracted to women only and her sexual relationships were primarily with them. When younger, she occasionally engaged in sex with men without physical desire for them, and wrote in her diary: "The male face doesn't attract me, isn't ''beautiful'' to me." She told Meaker in the late 1950s that she had "''tried'' to like men. I like most men better than I like women, but not in bed." In a 1970 letter to her stepfather Stanley, Highsmith described sexual encounters with men as "steel wool in the face, a sensation of being raped in the wrong place—leading to a sensation of having to have, pretty soon, a boewl [''sic''] movement." Stressing, "If these words are unpleasant to read, I can assure you it is a little more unpleasant in bed." Phyllis Nagy described Highsmith as "a lesbian who did not very much enjoy being around other women" and the few sexual dabbles she'd had with men occurred just to "see if she could be into men in that way because she so much more preferred their company."
Highsmith was attracted to women of privilege who expected their lovers to treat them with veneration. According to Phyllis Nagy, she belonged to a "very particular subset of lesbians" and described her conduct with many women she was interested in as being comparable to a movie "studio boss" who chased starlets. Many of these women, who to some extent belonged to the 'Carol Aird'-type and her social set, remained friendly with Highsmith and confirmed the stories of seduction.
An intensely private person, Highsmith was remarkably open and outspoken about her sexuality. She told Meaker: "the only difference between us and heterosexuals is what we do in bed."
Highsmith endured cycles of depression, some of them deep, throughout her life. Despite literary success, she wrote in her diary of January 1970: "[I] am now cynical, fairly rich ... lonely, depressed, and totally pessimistic." Over the years, Highsmith suffered from female hormone deficiency, anorexia nervosa, chronic anemia, Buerger's disease, and lung cancer.
According to her biographer Andrew Wilson, Highsmith's personal life was a "troubled one." She was an alcoholic who, allegedly, never had an intimate relationship that lasted for more than a few years, and she was seen by some of her contemporaries and acquaintances as misanthropic and hostile. Her chronic alcoholism intensified as she grew older.
She famously preferred the company of animals to that of people and stated in a 1991 interview, "I choose to live alone because my imagination functions better when I don't have to speak with people."
Otto Penzler, her U.S. publisher through his Penzler Books imprint, had met Highsmith in 1983, and four years later witnessed some of her theatrics intended to create havoc at dinner tables and shipwreck an evening. He said after her death that "[Highsmith] was a mean, cruel, hard, unlovable, unloving human being…I could never penetrate how any human being could be that relentlessly ugly…. But her books? Brilliant.”
Other friends, publishers, and acquaintances held different views of Highsmith. Editor Gary Fisketjon, who published her later novels through Knopf, said that "She was very rough, very difficult...But she was also plainspoken, dryly funny, and great fun to be around." Composer David Diamond met Highsmith in 1943 and described her as being "quite a depressed person—and I think people explain her by pulling out traits like cold and reserved, when in fact it all came from depression." J. G. Ballard said of Highsmith, "The author of ''Strangers on a Train'' and ''The Talented Mr. Ripley'' was every bit as deviant and quirky as her mischievous heroes, and didn't seem to mind if everyone knew it." Screenwriter Phyllis Nagy, who adapted ''The Price of Salt'' into the 2015 film ''Carol'', met Highsmith in 1987 and the two remained friends for the rest of Highsmith's life. Nagy said that Highsmith was "very sweet" and "encouraging" to her as a young writer, as well as "wonderfully funny." 
She was considered by some as "a lesbian with a misogynist streak." However, in his review of ''Little Tales of Misogyny, ''Nicholas Lezard thought the accusations of misogyny to be without foundation.
Highsmith loved cats, and she bred about three hundred snails in her garden at home in Suffolk, England. Highsmith once attended a London cocktail party with a "gigantic handbag" that "contained a head of lettuce and a hundred snails" which she said were her "companions for the evening."
She loved woodworking tools and made several pieces of furniture. Highsmith worked without stopping. In later life, she became stooped, with an osteoporotic hump. Though the 22 novels and 8 books of short stories she wrote were highly acclaimed, especially outside of the United States, Highsmith preferred her personal life to remain private.
A lifelong diarist, Highsmith left behind eight thousand pages of handwritten notebooks and diaries.
She never married or had children.
Patricia Highsmith, aged 74, died on February 4, 1995, from a combination of aplastic anemia and lung cancer at Carita hospital in Locarno, Switzerland, near the village where she had lived since 1982. She was cremated at the cemetery in Bellinzona; a memorial service was conducted in the Chiesa di Tegna in Tegna, Ticino, Switzerland; and her ashes were interred in its columbarium.   
She left her estate, worth an estimated $3 million, and the promise of any future royalties to the Yaddo colony, where she spent two months in 1948 writing the draft of ''Strangers on a Train''. Highsmith bequeathed her literary estate to the Swiss Literary Archives at the Swiss National Library in Bern, Switzerland. Her Swiss publisher, Diogenes Verlag, was appointed literary executor of the estate.
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