Patricia Highsmith: Her Diaries and Notebooks

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781474617598

Price: £30

ON SALE: 16th November 2021

Genre: Biography & True Stories / Diaries, Letters & Journals

‘Offers the most complete picture ever published of how Highsmith saw herself’ New York Times

‘One of the finest writers in the English language’ Richard Osman

‘I love Highsmith so much. What a revelation her writing was’ Gillian Flynn


‘My secrets – the secrets that everyone has – are here, in black and white.’


Published for the very first time for the centenary of her birth, Patricia Highsmith’s diaries and notebooks offer an unforgettable insight into the life and mind of one of the twentieth century’s most fascinating writers.


Though the famously secretive Highsmith refused to authorise a biography during her lifetime, she left behind 8,000 pages of notebooks and diaries, along with tantalising instructions on how they should be read. This one-volume assemblage reveals, at last, the inscrutable figure behind the pen. The diaries show Highsmith’s unwavering literary ambitions – coming often at huge personal sacrifice. We see Highsmith drafting Strangers on a Train while attending the Yaddo artists’ colony in 1948, alongside Flannery O’Connor and at Truman Capote’s recommendation. We feel her euphoria writing The Price of Salt (later adapted into the film Carol), one of the first mainstream novels to depict two women in love. And we watch Highsmith in Positano, subsisting on little more than cigarettes and gleefully conjuring Mr Ripley, the sociopathic anti-hero that would cement her reputation.


In these pages Highsmith reflects on good and evil, loneliness and intimacy, sexuality and sacrifice, love and murder. She describes her tumultuous romantic relationships, alongside her sometimes dizzying social life involving Jane Bowles, Peggy Guggenheim, Carson McCullers, Arthur Koestler and W. H. Auden. And in her skewering of McCarthy-era America, her prickly disparagement of contemporary art and ever-percolating prejudices, we see Highsmith revealing the roots of her psychological angst and acuity.


At once lovable, detestable and mesmerising, Highsmith put her turbulent life to paper for five decades. Offering all the pleasures of Highsmith’s novels, the result is one of the most compulsively readable literary diaries to publish in generations

Reviews

The whole book is excellent. Highsmith is pointed and dry about herself and everything else. But the early chapters are special. They comprise one of the most observant and ecstatic accounts I've read - and it's a crowded field! - about being young and alive in New York City
New York Times
Offers the most complete picture ever published of how Highsmith saw herself
New York Times
One of the finest writers in the English language
Richard Osman
One of the literary highlights of 2021
Guardian
I don't think I've ever met a person as troubling or intelligent, frustrating and frustrated, and triumphantly alone. A master diarist as much as novelist. Highsmith's Her Diaries and Notebooks are a portrait of a time, a long passage from the forties to the nineties, and you've never travelled on this perspective before
Eileen Myles
Highsmith's astonishing candour in the witness stand of her personal notebooks, and heartbreaking self-exposures in the jury box of her diaries, are like nothing else in American confessional literature
Joan Schenkar
I love Highsmith so much. What a revelation her writing was
Gillian Flynn
Few writers fathomed with such intensity the dark places of the human mind
Evening Standard
There is no one quite like Highsmith
Anita Brookner
Highsmith was every bit as deviant and quirky as her mischievous heroes, and didn't seem to mind if everyone knew it
J. G. Ballard