1921 - 1995

“My imagination functions much better when I don't have to speak to people.”

– Patricia Highsmith

In 1952, under the pseudonym “Claire Morgan,” she published the landmark lesbian romance The Price of Salt. The book took lesbian pulp fiction to a new level of literacy and was one of the first American gay or lesbian novels to have a positive ending where, as Highsmith herself noted, “the two lovers actually came out alive at the end and with a fair amount of hope for a happy future… I am happy to think that it gave several thousand lonely and frightened people something to hang onto.” While subtle homoeroticism is a feature of much of her work, critics and fans have been most struck by the thought-provoking amorality of her stories, in which wrongdoing often goes unpunished and readers sometimes find themselves empathizing with the wrongdoers. In all, Highsmith wrote 20 crime novels, including five featuring the “Talented” and “Mysterious” Mr. Tom Ripley, as well as several collections of short crime fiction. But she is perhaps best known as the author of the celebrated psychological suspense novel Strangers on a Train (1949), which became an Alfred Hitchcock film-noir classic in 1951.


Gender Female

Sexual Orientation Lesbian

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity Caucasian/White

Faith Construct Atheist

Nations Affiliated United States Switzerland France

Era/Epoch Information Age (1970-present)

Field(s) of Contribution


Commemorations & Honors

O. Henry Award for Best First Story for The Heroine (1946)

Edgar Allan Poe Scroll Special Award Mystery Writers of America for The Talented Mr. Ripley (1956)

Grand Prix de Littérature Policière International for The Talented Mr. Ripley (1957)

Special Award Mystery Writers of America for The Terrapin (1963)

Silver Dagger Award Best Foreign Novel Crime Writers' Association for The Two Faces of January (1964)

Swedish Crime Writers' Academy Grand Master (1979)

Festival du Cinéma Américain de Deauville Prix littéraire Lucien Barrière (1987)

Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French Ministry of Culture (1989)

Finnish Crime Society Best Foreign Literary Award (1993)


Original Biography Author
Victor Salvo
Biography Edited By
Owen Keehnen
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell