Queer Places:
508 W Broadway Ave, Fort Worth, TX 76104
1 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

Image result for Patricia Highsmith'''Patricia Highsmith'''[1] (January 19, 1921 – February 4, 1995)[2] 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,[3] and interrogated notions of identity and popular morality.[4] She was dubbed "the poet of apprehension" by novelist Graham Greene.[5]

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.

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,[6] and Mary Plangman (''née'' Coates; September 13, 1895 – March 12, 1991). The couple divorced ten days before their daughter's birth.[7] 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,[8] 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.

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.

external image I_Patricia%20Highsmith%20House,%20NYC,%20NY.JPG
345 E. 57th Street, 10022, NYC, NY, USA

Many of Highsmith's 22 novels were set in Greenwich Village,[9] 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''.[10]

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''. [11]

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.[12]

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."[13]

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.”[14]

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."[15] 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.[16] Nagy said that Highsmith was "very sweet" and "encouraging" to her as a young writer, as well as "wonderfully funny."[17] [18]

She was considered by some as "a lesbian with a misogynist streak."[19] However, in his review of ''Little Tales of Misogyny, ''Nicholas Lezard thought the accusations of misogyny to be without foundation.[20]

Highsmith loved cats, and she bred about three hundred snails in her garden at home in Suffolk, England.[21] 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.[22]

A lifelong diarist, Highsmith left behind eight thousand pages of handwritten notebooks and diaries.

She never married or had children.

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 writer Marijane 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."[23] 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."

In 1943, Highsmith had an affair with artist Allela Cornell who, despondent over unrequited love from another woman, committed suicide in 1946 by drinking nitric acid.

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.[24] 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. [25]

In early September 1951, she began an affair with sociologist Ellen Blumenthal Hill, traveling back and forth to Europe to meet with her. 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.[26] She dedicated ''The Two Faces of January'' (1964) to Tietgens.

Between 1959 and 1961, Highsmith was in love with author Marijane Meaker. [27] 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.

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."

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. [28] [29] [30]

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''.[31] Highsmith bequeathed her literary estate to the Swiss Literary Archives at the Swiss National Library in Bern, Switzerland.[32] Her Swiss publisher, Diogenes Verlag, was appointed literary executor of the estate.


  1. ^ Patricia Highsmith, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  2. ^ cite web|title=Mary P Highsmith|url=https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/VMGS-2TB|website=FamilySearch|publisher=The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (From the United States Social Security Administration Death Master File)
  3. ^ cite web|last1=Shore|first1=Robert|title=The talented Ms Highsmith|url=https://www.theguardian.com/film/2000/jan/28/crimebooks|work=The Guardian|date=7 January 2000|accessdate=March 29, 2017
  4. ^ cite web |author=Wilson, Andrew |url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/3595207/Ripleys-enduring-allure.html |title=Ripley's enduring allure |work=Telegraph.co.uk |date=24 May 2003 |accessdate=December 30, 2010
  5. ^ cite book|last1=Highsmith|first1=Patricia|title=Eleven|date=1970|publisher=William Heinemann Ltd.|isbn=043433510X|page=xi|edition=1st|chapter=Foreword
  6. ^ cite web|last1=Castle|first1=Terry|url=https://newrepublic.com/article/the-ick-factor|title=The Ick Factor|website=The New Republic|accessdate=October 6, 2015|archiveurl=https://web.archive.org/web/20150922211303/http://www.newrepublic.com/article/the-ick-factor|archivedate=September 22, 2015|date=November 10, 2003
  7. ^ cite book|last1=Schenkar|first1=Joan|title=The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith|date=2009|publisher=St. Martin's Press|edition=1st|isbn=9780312303754 page needed|date=November 2015
  8. ^ cite web|last=Doll|first=Jen|title=The Bizarre True Story Behind "The Talented Mr. Ripley"|url=https://mentalfloss.atavist.com/the-bizarre-true-story-behind-the-talented-mr-ripley|website=Mental Floss|date=December 4, 2015|accessdate=June 9, 2017
  9. ^ cite web|last1=Cohen|first1=Patricia|title=The Haunts of Miss Highsmith|url=https://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/11/books/11highsmith.html|work=The New York Times|date=December 10, 2009|accessdate=October 6, 2015
  10. ^ cite web|last1=Michaud|first1=Jon|title=Book Club: Highsmith and ''The New Yorker''|url=http://www.newyorker.com/books/book-club/book-club-highsmith-and-the-new-yorker|work=The New Yorker|date=January 25, 2010|accessdate=March 24, 2017
  11. ^ cite web|last1=Willcox|first1=Kathleen|title=Patricia Highsmith, Yaddo and America|url=http://www.saratogaliving.com/featured/patricia-highsmith-yaddo-and-america|website=Saratoga Living|date=June 1, 2016|accessdate=March 24, 2017|deadurl=yes|archiveurl=https://web.archive.org/web/20170325023853/http://www.saratogaliving.com/featured/patricia-highsmith-yaddo-and-america|archivedate=March 25, 2017|df=mdy-all
  12. ^ cite web|last1=O'Neill|first1=Anne|title=Booze as muse: writers and alcohol, from Ernest Hemingway to Patricia Highsmith|url=http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/booze-as-muse-writers-and-alcohol-from-ernest-hemingway-to-patricia-highsmith-1.2369720|work=The Irish Times|date=September 28, 2015|accessdate=April 12, 2017
  13. ^ cite web|last1=Guinard|first1=Mavis|url=https://www.nytimes.com/1991/08/17/style/17iht-high.html|title=Patricia Highsmith: Alone With Ripley|website=The New York Times|date=August 17, 1991|accessdate=October 6, 2015
  14. ^ cite web|last1=Fierman|first1=Daniel|url=http://www.ew.com/article/2000/01/14/mystery-girl|title=Mystery Girl: Deceased mistress of suspense Patricia Highsmith is finding new fans with The Talented Mr. Ripley|website=Entertainment Weekly|date=January 14, 2000|accessdate=October 6, 2015
  15. ^ cite web|last1=Ballard|first1=JG|title=Summer reading (from The Sunday Telegraph) What I'll be reading this summer|url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/3598987/Summer-reading-from-The-Sunday-Telegraph-What-Ill-be-reading-this-summer.html|work=The Sunday Telegraph|date=21 July 2003|accessdate=June 13, 2017
  16. ^ cite web|last=Gross|first=Terry|title=In 'Carol,' 2 Women Leap Into An Unlikely Love Affair|url=http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=462089856|website=Fresh Air|publisher=NPR|date=January 6, 2016|accessdate=March 13, 2017
  17. ^ cite web|last1=Cocozza|first1=Paula|title=How Patricia Highsmith's Carol became a film: 'Lesbianism is not an issue. It's a state of normal'|url=https://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/nov/12/how-patricia-highsmiths-carol-became-a-film-lesbianism-is-not-an-issue|website=The Guardian|date=November 12, 2015|accessdate=December 14, 2015
  18. ^ cite web|last1=Emily|url=http://www.thelaughinglesbian.com/phyllis-nagy-on-screen-writing-and-carol/|title=Phyllis Nagy: On Screen Writing and CAROL|website=The Laughing Lesbian|date=November 13, 2015|accessdate=December 14, 2015
  19. ^ cite web|last1=Walter|first1=Natasha|title=A lover, not a liker|url=https://www.theguardian.com/books/2003/jul/12/featuresreviews.guardianreview3|website=The Guardian|date=July 11, 2003|accessdate=October 6, 2015
  20. ^ cite web|last1=Lezard|first1=Nicholas|title=Little Tales of Misogyny by Patricia Highsmith review – a mischievous look at the suburban American dream|url=https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jan/20/little-tales-of-misogyny-by-patricia-highsmith-review|website=The Guardian|date=January 20, 2015|accessdate=October 6, 2015
  21. ^ cite book|last1=Currey|first1=Mason|title=Daily Rituals: How Artists Work|date=2013|publisher=Knopf|edition=1st|page=12|isbn=978-0307273604
  22. ^ cite web|last1=Dawson|first1=Jill|title=Carol: the women behind Patricia Highsmith's lesbian novel|url=https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/may/13/patricia-highsmith-film-adaptation-carol-only-openly-lesbian-novel-cannes-cate-blanchett|website=The Guardian|date=May 13, 2015|accessdate=October 6, 2015
  23. ^ cite book|last1=Meaker|first1=Marijane|title=Highsmith: A Romance of the 1950s|date=2003|publisher=Cleis Press|edition=1st|chapter=Four|page=25|isbn=1573441716
  24. ^ cite web|last1=Espana|first1=Marco|title=Famous First Words: Strangers on a Train|url=http://latenightlibrary.org/famous-first-words-strangers-on-a-train/|website=Late Night Library|date=May 6, 2015|accessdate=March 11, 2016
  25. ^ cite web|last1=Hart|first1=Kate|title=The Inner Life of Patricia Highsmith|url=http://thisrecording.com/today/2011/8/15/in-which-patricia-highsmith-endures-a-depression-equal-to-he.html|website=This Recording|date=August 15, 2011|accessdate=October 6, 2015
  26. ^ cite web|last1=Gerratana|first1=Mimmo|title=Foto come ukiyo-e: immagini del mondo fluttuante|url=https://mimmogerratana.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/foto-come-ukiyo-e-immagini-del-tempo-fluttuante/|website=I sensi della letteratura|language=Italian|trans-title=Photo as ukiyo-e: images of the floating world|date=11 August 2013
  27. ^ cite web|last1=de Bertodano|first1=Helena|url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/donotmigrate/3596749/A-passion-that-turned-to-poison.html|title=A passion that turned to poison|website=The Telegraph|date=June 16, 2003|accessdate=October 6, 2015
  28. ^ cite web|last1=Hodgson|first1=Godfrey|title=Obituary: Patricia Highsmith|url=https://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/obituary-patricia-highsmith-1571740.html|website=The Independent|accessdate=March 16, 2017|date=February 6, 1995
  29. ^ cite news|last=Dupont|first=Joan|title=A Writer's Legacy: Little Tales of Cats and Snails|url=https://www.nytimes.com/1997/09/09/style/09iht-smith.t.html|accessdate=April 7, 2016|work=The New York Times|date=September 9, 1997
  30. ^ cite news|last=Kennedy|first=Randy|title=Patricia Highsmith, Writer Of Crime Tales, Dies at 74|url=https://www.nytimes.com/1995/02/05/obituaries/patricia-highsmith-writer-of-crime-tales-dies-at-74.html|accessdate=April 7, 2016|work=The New York Times|date=February 5, 1995
  31. ^ cite news|last1=Yaddo News|title=Yaddo Shadow|url=ftp://ftp.yaddo.org/Yaddo/newsletter-spring2004.pdf|accessdate=March 13, 2016|publisher=Yaddo|date=Spring 2004|pages=14–17
  32. ^ cite web|last1=Swiss Literary Archives|title=Patricia Highsmith at the Swiss National Library|url=https://www.news.admin.ch/message/index.html?lang=en&msg-id=3558|website=Swiss National Library|publisher=Schweizerische Nationalbibliothek|date=March 7, 2006|accessdate=March 13, 2016