Thomas Harris Biography


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Little has been published about Thomas Harris’s life, which he carefully keeps private. Even the month and day of his birth do not appear in any published accounts. However, he is no hermit. Those who know him—including his mother, with whom he is close—say that Harris is a southern gentleman, a good friend, and a gourmet cook.

Born to William Harris and Polly Harris, Thomas Harris is an only child, raised primarily in Rich, Mississippi, near his birthplace, Jackson, Tennessee. As an adolescent, Harris was bookish and probably unhappy; he read constantly. After attending Clarksdale High School and Cleveland High School, Harris left Mississippi for Baylor College in Waco, Texas.

While earning his bachelor’s degree in English from 1961 to 1964, Harris began writing professionally. He covered crime stories for the Waco Herald-Tribune and was eventually hired as a full-time reporter. One assignment took him to Mexico to investigate a child-prostitution ring. He also began having pieces published in the magazines True and Argosy. No sources have tracked down those pieces or even established whether they were short stories or true-crime reports. Given the histories of the magazines, the latter is likelier. At Baylor, Harris married a fellow student, Harriet; they had one daughter, Anne, and were divorced by 1964. After graduation, Harris traveled in Europe. He moved to New York City in 1968 to work for Associated Press as a reporter, covering crime, and then editor.

In 1973 Harris and coworkers Sam Maull and Dick Riley conceived the novel that would become Black Sunday (1975), inspired by acts of terrorism committed in 1972 at the Lod Airport in Tel Aviv by the...

(The entire section is 710 words.)