Thomas Harris

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Thomas Harris
Born (1940-09-22) September 22, 1940 (age 77)
Jackson, Tennessee, U.S.
Occupation Novelist
Nationality American
Education English language
Alma mater Baylor University
Period 1975–2006
Genre Crime, horror, suspense
Notable works Red Dragon
The Silence of the Lambs
Hannibal Rising
Black Sunday
Partner Pace Barnes

William Thomas Harris III[1] (born September 22, 1940) is an American writer, best known for a series of suspense novels about his most famous character, Hannibal Lecter. All of his works have been made into films, the most notable being The Silence of the Lambs, which became only the third film in Academy Award history to sweep the Oscars in major categories.[2]


Harris was born in Jackson, Tennessee,[3] but moved as a child with his family to Rich, Mississippi. He was introverted and bookish in grade school and then blossomed in high school.[4] He attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he majored in English and graduated in 1964. While in college, he worked as a reporter for the local newspaper, the Waco Tribune-Herald, covering the police beat. In 1968, he moved to New York City to work for Associated Press until 1974 when he began work on Black Sunday.[5]

Personal life

Little is known about Harris's personal life as he avoids publicity and has not given an interview since 1976.[6] At Baylor University he met and married Harriet Anne Haley, a fellow student, in June 1961. They had one daughter, Elizabeth Anne, before they divorced in August 1968.[7] Harris remained close to his mother Polly throughout his life and called her every night no matter where he was. He often discussed particular scenes from his novels with her.[8] Polly died on December 31, 2011.[9]

He lives in South Florida and has a summer home in Sag Harbor, New York.[10] His long-term domestic partner is Pace Barnes, a woman who, according to USA Today, "used to work in publishing and is as outgoing as he is quiet."[11] Harris' friend and literary agent Morton Janklow said of him: "He's one of the good guys. He is big, bearded and wonderfully jovial. If you met him, you would think he was a choirmaster. He loves cooking—he's done the Le Cordon Bleu exams—and it's great fun to sit with him in the kitchen while he prepares a meal and see that he's as happy as a clam. He has these old-fashioned manners, a courtliness you associate with the South."[12]

Approach to writing and critical reception

Fellow novelist Stephen King has remarked that if writing is sometimes tedious for other authors, to Harris it is like "writhing on the floor in agonies of frustration", because, for Harris, "the very act of writing is a kind of torment". Novelist John Dunning said of Harris, "All he is is a talent of the first rank."[13]


Dr. Hannibal Lecter

See also


  1. ^ Texas Birth Index, 1903-1997 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005.
  2. ^ Conklin 1999
  3. ^ Cowley 2006 p. 45
  4. ^ Laughlin 1999
  5. ^ Conklin 1999
  6. ^ Hoban 1991
  7. ^ Streibling 2001
  8. ^ Cowley 2006 p. 45
  9. ^ Bolivar 2012
  10. ^ Hoban 1991
  11. ^ Minzesheimer 1999
  12. ^ Cowley 2006 p. 45
  13. ^ Dunning 1992 p. 159
  • "Polly Coleman Harris", The Bolivar Commercial, January 3, 2012, archived from the original on June 22, 2013, retrieved April 30, 2013 
  • Conklin, Mike (April 18, 1999), "Hannibal is up to his old tricks in 'Silence' sequel", Lubbock Avalanche Journal 
  • Cowley, Jason (November 19, 2006), "Creator of a Monstrous Hit", The Observer 
  • Dunning, John. Booked to Die. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1992.
  • Hoban, Phoebe (April 15, 1991), "The Silence of the Writer", New York: 48–50 
  • Laughlin, Meg (August 15, 1999), "The hunt for Thomas Harris", Houston Chronicle, archived from the original on August 15, 2013, retrieved April 16, 2012 
  • Minzesheimer, Bob (December 2, 1999), "Hungry fans eat up 'Hannibal'", USA Today, retrieved July 22, 2013 
  • Sexton, David. The Strange World of Thomas Harris. London: Short Books, 2001.
  • Streibling, William (2001). "The Mississippi Writers Page; Thomas Harris". Retrieved March 29, 2010. 

External links

  • Official website
  • Thomas Harris on IMDb
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