Author Patricia Highsmith, called the “Dark Lady of American Letters” by her biographer Joan Schenkar, was born on January 19, 1921. She was the author of over twenty-two books including Strangers on a Train, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and although published under a pseudonym, the lesbian novel The Price of Salt. While she was born in Texas and died while living in Europe, she spent her formative years in Greenwich Village, and many of her books are set in the neighborhood.
Highsmith is certainly an intriguing Village personality because of her talent, her fascination with crime and the anti-hero, and her many romantic relationships with both women and men, but also perhaps because of some of her more ugly viewpoints. She moved to Greenwich Village to live with her mother and stepfather in a one-bedroom apartment on Grove Street when she was six, after living with her maternal grandmother since she was two. She sublet an apartment on Morton Street after high school to escape her mother. As a student at Barnard, she would often hang out at Marie’s Crisis and the Village Vanguard. The New York Times features a wonderful map of the author’s Village connections.
Want to learn more about this fascinating Village author? GVSHP featured a lecture by Highsmith biographer Joan Schenkar several years ago. You can listen to an audio recording of the lecture, check out the biography, and more on GVSHP past events page.