Born: January 19, 1921, Fort Worth, Texas, United States
Died: February 4, 1995, Locarno, Switzerland
Education: Barnard College
Lived: 48 Grove Street
345 E. 57th Street
Casa Highsmith, Tegna
Buried: Cimitero di Tegna, Tegna, Distretto di Locarno, Ticino, Switzerland
Movies: Carol, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Purple Noon, more
Parents: Jay Bernard Plangman, Stanley Highsmith, Mary Coates Plangman
Patricia Highsmith wrote 22 novels, many of them set in Greenwich Village, where she lived at 48 Grove Street from 1940 to 1942, before moving at 345 E. 57th Street.
Queer Places, Vol. 1 edited by Elisa Rolle
Release Date: July 24, 2016
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Tegna, in Switzerland’s Italian-speaking canton Ticino, is the village where Patricia Highsmith lived out the last years of her life, in the Vallemaggia, a narrow, rocky valley behind Locarno. Her ashes are immured in the cemetery and her famously bunker-like house is down the road.
Address: Tegna, Switzerland (46.1867, 8.74433)
Type: Private Property
In 1988, Patricia Highsmith built the house she died in, with the help of Zurich-based architect Tobias Ammann. “Casa Highsmith,” a modernist flat-roofed single storey “M” shaped construction in the small village of Tegna in the Ticino, Switzerland, “bore a curious resemblance,” according to the Swiss National Library in Bern, “to the “long, low and flat-roofed” and “shining white” and Y-shaped house she imagined thirty years earlier for the architect Guy Haines [the hapless and fateful victim] in “Strangers on the Train” (before a second floor was added by new owners after her death).” She ended up curating herself in the shape of her own architecture; the fiction that, in hindsight, predicted her own house. Her final “dream home” had all along been “half felt and feebly” lodged within her own strange enactments designed to be so implausible as to contain the implicit sense of fate and inevitability within any choice.
Who: Patricia Highsmith (January 19, 1921 – February 4, 1995)
Patricia Highsmith was an American novelist and short story writer, known for her psychological thrillers, which led to more than two dozen film adaptations. Her first novel, “Strangers on a Train,” has been adapted for stage and screen numerous times, notably by Alfred Hitchcock in 1951. Highsmith wrote 22 novels, including her series of five novels with Tom Ripley as protagonist, and many short stories. Michael Dirda observed, "Europeans honored her as a psychological novelist, part of an existentialist tradition represented by her own favorite writers, in particular Dostoyevsky, Conrad, Kafka, Gide, and Camus." Highsmith loved cats, and she bred about three hundred snails in her garden at home in Suffolk, England. Between 1959 and 1961, she fell in love with Marijane Meaker, who wrote under the pseudonyms "Vin Packer" and "Ann Aldrich" and later wrote young adult fiction as "M.E. Kerr". In the late 1980s, after 27 years of separation, Highsmith began corresponding with Meaker again, and one day showed up on Meaker's doorstep, slightly drunk and ranting bitterly. Meaker later said she was horrified at how Highsmith's personality had changed. Highsmith, aged 74, died from a combination of aplastic anemia and lung cancer at Carita hospital in Locarno, Switzerland, near the village where she had lived since 1982. She was cremated at the cemetery in Bellinzona, a memorial service was conducted in the Catholic Church in Tegna and her ashes interred in its columbarium. She left her estate, worth an estimated $3 million, and the promise of any future royalties to the Yaddo colony, where she spent two months in 1948 writing the draft of “Strangers on a Train.” Patricia Highsmith bequeathed her literary estate to the Swiss Literary Archives at the Swiss National Library in Bern, Switzerland.
Queer Places, Vol. 3 edited by Elisa Rolle
Release Date: July 24, 2016
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