Patricia Highsmith

Patricia Highsmith was a white American lesbian writer from Texas who spent most of her professional life in New York and Europe. She published 22 novels and 8 collections of short stories. Her work includes Strangers on a Train (1950), which was adapted for film by Alfred Hitchcock, and her semi-autobiographical novel The Price of Salt (1952), which was also adapted into the Oscar nominated film Carol (2014). The Price of Salt, which she published under the name Claire Morgan, deals with the relationship between a young shop girl and a married woman, and was inspired by an experience HIghsmith had had.

Highsmith primarily had relations with women, but was not open about her sexuality. She also had relations with men when she was younger. She dated British author Marc Brandel, but wrote in a letter to her stepfather about Brandel, “steel wool in the face, a sensation of being raped in the wrong place – leading to a sensation of having to have, pretty soon, a bowel movement.” Her relationship with Brandel was short lived and ahe was never sexually exclusive with him. During their time together, she had an affair with Ann Smith, a painter whom she met through Brandel. Subsequently, Highsmith underwent psychoanalysis in an attempt to marry Brandel, but eventually broke off the sessions.

Highsmith reportedly never had an intimate relationship that lasted more than a few years. She suffered from depression and crippling alcoholism. She famously preferred the company of animals to humans, and even went as far as taking a handbag stuffed with a head of lettuces covered in snails to a party as her companions..

The Patricia Highsmth Papers are at the Swiss Literary Archive at the Swiss National Library in Bern, Switzerland.