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A Legacy of Talent

On this day 100 years ago Mary Patricia Plangman was born in Ft. Worth Texas. Twenty-nine years later she would become known all over the world as Patricia Highsmith when her first novel Strangers on a Train was optioned by none other than Alfred Hitchcock.

Highsmith went on to become one of the most elite writers of mystery and murder. Her ability to tap into the psyche of her murderous characters offered up tales woven on the border of horror like no other and quickly put her in a genre all her own.

Author of more than twenty novels, including The Talented Mr. Ripley and his many new adventures that followed, Highsmith was soon among the most filmed authors with a total of 28 films depicting her stories and unforgettable characters.  The beautiful cinematography success of the 2015 Todd Haynes film Carol, based on Highsmith's novel The Price of Salt, was nominated for numerous awards including the Oscars and Cannes.  

Diogenes Verlag, the literary estate holder of Patricia Highsmith, in preparation for the marking of her 100th birthday released Ladies, showcasing stories that previously appeared in school newspapers and women's magazines. This never before published five story collection was soon followed by the reprinting of other Highsmith works: The Sweet Madness, Deep Water, The Owl's Cry, Elsie's Lust for Life, Edith's Diary and The Price of Salt.

A complicated and brilliant woman, Highsmith possessed a darkness that would catapult her career and simultaneously disrupt her personal life many times over. Her private diaries, filled with prejudices, longing, love and despair, display an inner battle of self-loathing crashing against a desire to give affection while never truly accepting any.

100 years from her birth and 71 years from her writing debut, the brilliance that is Highsmith remains unrivaled. Her unmatched ability to twist deception and evil into a likable, relatable character is certain to attract new generations of readers for decades to come.

The announcement from Diogenes in September of 2020 that they will publish several excerpts from her many journals has been met with anticipation and intrigue. The upcoming 2021 release will no doubt bring much discussion and deliberation over the dichotomy of the author that was seen and the woman that hid behind the pages of her innermost vile thoughts.

For those that can't wait, you can find excerpts from her diaries and insights from those that knew her in The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith, by Joan Schenkar (2009), or check out the newest journey into the mind of Highsmith with Devils, Lusts & Strange Desires: The Life of Patricia Highsmith by Richard Bradford, set to release January 21, 2021.


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