Patricia Highsmith’s Diaries

The diaries of Patricia Highsmith (author of many books, including Strangers on a Train, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and The Price of Salt, the basis for the movie Carol) are being released by her estate, for publication in a book.

patricia highsmith diary journal page

The diaries, which Liveright Publishing plans to release in the United States in 2021 as a single book, offer a glimpse into the life of a literary figure whose sharply observed psychological thrillers, including “Strangers on a Train” and “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” became cultural touchstones. She was a secretive, often prickly woman who remained a cipher even to her friends and lovers, and a trailblazer who wrote one of the first mainstream novels depicting two women in love. But she could be blinded by her own bigotry and espoused racist and anti-Semitic views.

Scholars have long known about the diary entries, but they have not previously been available to the public. Spanning nearly 60 years, the entries reveal new facets of Highsmith’s life. They catalog her thoughts on such subjects as good and evil, loneliness and intimacy, and love and murder, which she saw as intertwined: “Murder is a kind of making love, a kind of possessing,” she wrote in 1950….

The diaries were discovered after Highsmith’s death in 1995, tucked away behind sheets and towels in a linen closet in her home in Ticino, Switzerland. The 56 spiral-bound notebooks, totaling some 8,000 pages, were found by her longtime editor, Anna von Planta, and Daniel Keel, the executor of Highsmith’s will and the literary executor of her estate.

5 thoughts on “Patricia Highsmith’s Diaries”

  1. It’s so refreshing to see diaries kept in garden-variety notebooks instead of pricey leather-bound books with heavy paper. Highsmith clearly had her priorities straight: capturing images and thoughts and translating them into writing is what matters for a writer (everyone else can spend all their money on the wrappings).
    Does this sound strange from a devoted follower of this site who drools over every expensive notebook shown? I’m happy to affirm that there’s something for everyone.

  2. I saved most of the notebooks I used during college for my Chemicsl Engineering courses, including the ones I used to help solve homework problems, and i’m a chronic journal writer too. Most of them are spiral bound single subject notebooks and composition notebooks. They are the bread and butter, the workhorses of the day. I have 90 filled notebooks right now.

  3. Wow, that is great that you kept all those! For some reason, those school notebooks are the only ones I never saved, though I have a few 8 1/2 x 11″ spiral notebooks used for other things…

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