Harris was born in Tennessee but grew up in the small town of Rich,
Mississippi. His mother, Polly, moved there to be near relatives in 1940
when Thomas Sr. went off to war. Thomas Jr. spent his early years in Rich
with his parents, attending the local school where his mom taught biology.
high school, Thomas went to live with his aunt in Cleveland, Mississippi
and later attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He received his
degree in English and in addition to his studies wrote stories for
magazines like Argosy and True. His devotion to detail was evident even in
these early works. Harris worked for the Waco Tribune Herald on the crime
desk in the early 60's.
leaving Waco, Harris got a job with the Associated Press in NY, where he
continued to cover crime and also worked as an assistant editor.
He left behind a daughter and an ex-wife when he moved North.
is famously reclusive, refusing to give interviews or attend book
signings. Biographical information on his books reveals only that he is a
Mississippi native who began his career as a journalist covering crime in
the US and Mexico. He is in his early 60's and resides in Miami Beach with
his girlfriend, Pace Barnes. Friends describe him as being soft-spoken,
thoughtful, and well-mannered.
approaches his writing in a notoriously unhurried manner – he has
published only 4 books since 1975 – and has a penchant for meticulous
research. He has spent countless hours with criminal profilers and
forensic experts and attends law enforcement conventions. Harris also
spent time at the trial of Pietro Pacciani in Florence in 1994, basing his
Il Mostro in Hannibal on this real-life killer.
first novel was published in 1975. Black Sunday, a story about terrorists
at the Super Bowl, was originally conceived as a collaborative effort and
outlined with colleagues, but it was Harris alone who ended up writing the
book after quitting his job to pursue a career writing fiction.
Dragon, the book that introduced Hannibal Lecter, followed in 1981 and
then Silence of the Lambs in 1988. His fourth novel, Hannibal, was
published almost 10 years later in 1999.
is the first in a two-book contract that Harris signed after the
phenomenal success of Silence.
© 2001 by Hannah