This weeks Illustrated Women in History was submitted by Rose Robbins.
Highsmith was born in 1921, and both her parents were artists and her mother told her once that she’d tried to abort her by drinking turpentine. Highsmith cultivated a love of books from a young age, and in 1950 her first novel Strangers on a Train was published. A year later, Alfred Hitchcock adapted the novel into a film which brought further attention to Highsmith’s work.
In 1952, Highsmith published The Price of Salt (later reissued and entitled Carol) which became a huge hit. The novel was born of Highsmith’s own struggle with her sexuality – she underwent psychoanalysis to try and “regularize herself sexually”, but unsurprisingly it did not work. Highsmith said that she “tried to like men. I like most men better than I like women, but not in bed.”
In 1955, Highsmith’s first novel in the Ripliad of Thomas “Tom” Ripley was published, and would be followed by four more titles in the series. In her lifetime, she wrote a total of 22 novels and became well known for her talent in writing psychological thrillers.