The American queen of the murder mystery lived in Locarno in the canton of Ticino. Born Mary Patricia Plangman in 1921, in Fort Worth, Texas, she was taken in by her grandmother after her parents' separation. During her teens, she demonstrated a talent for painting and sculpture, and this was when she began writing short stories.
She went to Julia Richmond Highschool in New York and went on to receive a degree in Latin, English and Greek in 1942. She wrote her first novel in 1950, Strangers on a Train, which was an immediate international bestseller and inspired Alfred Hitchcock'sfilm of the same name. Under the pen name of Claire Morgan, she published The Price of Salt in 1953, which sold almost a million copies.
Her greatest success came in 1955 with The Talented Mr. Ripley, which was adapted for the screen in 1960 by Rene Clement as Plein Soleil (Purple Noon), with Alain Delon in the leading role. A remake of The Talented Mr. Ripley was done in 2000, starring Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow.
The cruel and mysterious tone of the American writer's novels won the general public over. Patricia Highsmith continued the Ripley series with Ripley Under Ground in 1970, The Boy Who Followed Ripley in 1980 and Ripley Under Water in 1991.
The author - so admired by Graham Greene - retired to an isolated house near Locarno in the canton of Ticino with its Mediterranean climate. The novelist passed away in 1995, having published 22 novels and seven short stories. She left a collection of over 250 unpublished texts to the Swiss Literary Archives.