Patricia Cornwell was born on June 9, 1956, in Miami, Florida, and grew up in Montreat, North Carolina.
About Patricia Cornwell
An Interview with Patricia Cornwell
More About Patricia Cornwell
Following graduation from Davidson College in 1979, she began working at the Charlotte Observer, rapidly advancing from listing television programs to writing feature articles to covering the police beat. She won an investigative reporting award from the North Carolina Press Association for a series of articles on prostitution and crime in downtown Charlotte.
A Time for Remembering, her award-winning biography of Mrs. Billy Graham, was published in 1983. From 1984 to 1990 she worked as a technical writer and a computer analyst at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond, Virginia.
Her first crime novel, Postmortem, was published by Scribner’s in 1990. Initially rejected by seven major publishing houses, it became the first novel to win the Edgar, Creasey, Anthony, and Macavity awards as well as the French Prix du Roman d’Aventure in a single year. In Postmortem, Cornwell introduced Dr. Kay Scarpetta as the intrepid Chief Medical Examiner of the Commonwealth of Virginia. In 1999, Dr. Scarpetta herself won the Sherlock Award for best detective created by an American author.
Following the success of her first novel, Cornwell has written a string of bestsellers featuring Kay Scarpetta, her detective sidekick Marino, and her volatile niece, Lucy: Body of Evidence (1991), All That Remains (1992), Cruel and Unusual (1993) [which won Britain’s prestigious Gold Dagger Award for the year’s best crime novel], The Body Farm (1994), From Potter’s Field (1995), Cause of Death (1996), Unnatural Exposure (1997), Point of Origin (1998), Black Notice (1999), The Last Precinct (2000), Blow Fly (2003), Trace (2004), and Predator (2005).
In addition to the Scarpetta novels, she has written three best-selling novels featuring Andy Brazil: Hornet’s Nest (1996), Southern Cross (1998), and Isle of Dogs (2001); two cook books: Scarpetta’s Winter Table (1998) and Food to Die For (2001); and a children’s book: Life’s Little Fable (1999). In 1997, she updated A Time for Remembering, and it was reissued with the title Ruth, A Portrait: The Story of Ruth Bell Graham. Intrigued by Scotland Yard’s John Grieve’s observation that no one had evertried to use modern forensic evidence to solve the murders committed by Jack the Ripper, Cornwell began her own investigation of the serial killer’s crimes. In Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper— Case Closed (2002) she narrates her discovery of compelling evidence to indict the famous artist Walter Sickert as the Ripper. A new edition of Portrait of a Killer with new and startling evidence will be published in the near future.
In January 2006, the New York Times Sunday Magazine began a 15 week-long serialization of At Risk, a brand-new Cornwell thriller, which was published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons on May 23, 2006.
She co-wrote and co-produced the movie ATF for ABC, and she is often interviewed on national television as a forensic consultant. She is also the Director of Applied Forensic Science at the National Forensic Academy.
In May, 2007, she was awarded an honorary doctorate of letters from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, who cited her for enlightening society through her “commitment to the principles of academic excellence and understanding for all.”
Cornwell’s work is translated into thirty-two languages across more than thirty-five countries, and she is regarded as one of the major international best-selling authors.
Her novels are praised for their meticulous research and an insistence on accuracy in every detail, especially in forensic medicine and police procedures. She is so committed to verisimilitude that, among other accomplishments, she became a helicopter pilot and a certified scuba diver and qualified for a motorcycle license because she was writing about characters who were doing these things. “It is important to me to live in the world I write about,” she said. “If I want a character to do or know something, I want to do or know the same thing.”
On October 23, 2007, her new novel, Book of the Dead, featuring Dr. Kay Scarpetta is due to be published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons.
To keep up-to-date, input your email address, and we will contact you on publication