Patricia Highsmith: Her Diaries and Notebooks

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781474617598

Price: £30

ON SALE: 16th November 2021

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

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‘It promises to be one of the literary highlights of 2021 – publication of the diaries of Patricia Highsmith, one of the most conflicted, fascinating novelists of the 20th century’ Edward Helmore, Guardian

‘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 unparalleled, unforgettable insight into the life and mind of one of the 20th century’s most talented, complex and fascinating writers.

Posthumously discovered in Highsmith’s linen cupboard and edited down from 56 thick spiral notebooks by her devoted editor, Anna Von Planta, this one-volume assemblage of her diaries and notebooks traces Highsmith’s mesmerising double life.

The diaries show Highsmith’s unwavering literary ambitions – coming often at huge personal sacrifice. We see her writing the books that would make her name, including the Ripley novels which mark the apotheosis of the psychological thriller, and The Price of Salt (later adapted into the 2015 film Carol), one of the first mainstream novels to depict two women in love.

In these pages, we see Highsmith reflecting on good and evil, loneliness and intimacy, sexuality and sacrifice, love and murder. We see her tumultuous romantic relationships play out alongside her acquaintances with other writers including Jane Bowles, Aaron Copland, John Gielgud, Truman Capote, Carson McCullers, Arthur Koestler, and W. H. Auden. And in her skewering of McCarthy-era America, her prickly disparagement of contemporary art, her fixation on love and writing, and ever-percolating prejudices, we see the famously secretive Highsmith revealing the roots of her psychological angst and acuity.

Written in her inimitable and dazzling prose and offering all the pleasures of Highsmith’s novels, these are one of the most compulsively readable literary diaries to be published in generations – and yield, at last an unparalleled, unfiltered, unforgettable picture of this enigmatic, iconic, trailblazing author’s true self.


Disclosures from a meticulously documented life. . . An admirably edited volume for scholars and voracious fans
Kirkus Reviews
Offers insights into the thriller writer's many passions and creative intellect
Financial Times
Patricia Highsmith's diaries are something to behold, She is deliciously eccentric and droll, her romances always threaded with bitterness and lust
Eva Wiseman, Observer
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
As well as the late-night parties, alcohol and short-lived love affairs, we see a serious writer at work, determined to resist being pigeonholed
These secret diaries take us inside Patricia Highsmith's brilliant yet twisted mind . . . Here then, laid out for us, is the private life Highsmith transmuted into fiction, into those great novels in which innocence and guilt, good and evil meld into one another so alarmingly
Sunday Times
An unguarded portrait of a young woman taking the first tentative steps into the worlds of sex and literary endeavour . . . a capacious portrait of a complex author and a compelling coming-of-age story
Prospect Magazine
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
Provides stunning access to the mind of a notoriously secretive author
Vanity Fair
Here comes Patricia Highsmith at last, striding out of the closet, in her own words . . . A frank, and frankly disturbing, portrait of a writer who concealed the personal sources of her work for her entire life
Literary Review
A quarter century after the death of novelist Highsmith (1921-1995), fans are given a fascinating and unprecedented look into the 'playground for her imagination' . . . Devotees and historians alike will linger over every morsel
Publishers Weekly
Highsmith likens herself to "a steel needle", and her insights puncture complacency as if piercing flesh. She is the murderer, and we are all the victims
Few writers fathomed with such intensity the dark places of the human mind
Evening Standard
One of the literary highlights of 2021
A vivid portrait of a driven, impassioned, brutal and remarkably singular person, with a vast appetite for women, alcohol and - above all - her work
New Statesman
[Her Diaries and Notebooks] testify to the recalcitrant, unrelenting spirit of this great American curmudgeon and gifted crime writer
Keep them beside the bed, dip into them each night. And read them you must. Magnificent
The Times
I love Highsmith so much. What a revelation her writing was
Gillian Flynn
There is no one quite like Highsmith
Anita Brookner
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
The quippiness of the journals is a delight, few can sum up the creative life this deliciously
Offers the most complete picture ever published of how Highsmith saw herself
New York Times
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
Opens a window onto this extraordinary writer's inner life and working methods . . . a welcome addition to the work of a most eccentric genius
Evening Standard
One of the finest writers in the English language
Richard Osman