Patricia Highsmith (January 19, 1921 – February 4, 1995) was an American novelist and short-story writer most widely known for her psychological thrillers, which have led to more than two dozen film adaptations. Her first novel, Strangers on a Train has been adapted for stage and screen numerous times, notably by Alfred Hitchcock in 1951. In addition to her acclaimed series about murderer Tom Ripley, she wrote many short stories, often macabre, satirical or tinged with black humor. Although she wrote specifically in the genre of crime fiction, her books have been lauded by various writers and critics as being artistic and thoughtful enough to rival mainstream literature. Michael Dirda observed that, "Europeans honored her as a psychological novelist, part of an existentialist tradition represented by her own favorite writers, in particular Dostoevsky, Conrad, Kafka, Gide, and Camus."
Highsmith was born Mary Patricia Plangman in Fort Worth, Texas, daughter of artists Jay B. Plangman and his wife, the former Mary Coates, who divorced shortly before her birth. She was born in her maternal grandmother's boarding house. In 1927 Highsmith, her mother, and her adoptive stepfather, artist...