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Literary find Zurich publisher to release hidden diaries of Patricia Highsmith

woman on phone

Patricia Highsmith, pictured in London in 1951

(Keystone / Str)

The notes and diaries of the late American writer Patricia Highsmith will be published for the first time in autumn 2021. They document Highsmith’s life from her years as a student in New York to her death in Switzerland in 1995, as Zurich publisher Diogenes announced on Tuesday.

Highsmith’s 56 notebooks – comprising a total of 8,000 pages – were found hidden behind bed linen and towels in her house in the southern Swiss canton of Ticino by her editor Anna von Planta and then-publisher Daniel Keel. Illustrated with the writer’s drawings and watercolours, they will be published on what would have been Highsmith’s 100th birthday.

Among her most famous works are the Tom Ripley books and the lesbian love story Carol. Her novels and thrillers have been filmed by directors including Alfred Hitchcock and Wim Wenders. According to Diogenes, the film Deep Water – based on the 1957 novel – is currently being shot with Ben Affleck. In addition, a series on the Ripley books is being produced for the TV station Showtime, with shooting set to start in 2020.

Having lived in Switzerland from 1982, Highsmith left her papers to the Swiss Literary Archivesexternal link in Bern after dying in Locarno in southern Switzerland in 1995. The world rights are held by Diogenes Verlagexternal link.

“Highsmith was quite an observant writer; her diaries are fascinating,” Basel-based Irish author Padraig Rooney told swissinfo.ch in a previously published interview. He dedicated a chapter to her in The Gilded Chaletexternal link, his comprehensive guide to literary Switzerland.

As Highsmith, living a nomadic life in Europe, wrote in the 1950s, “Whenever I get desperately homesick, but still not desperately enough to spend several hundred dollars getting back to America, I go to Switzerland. ... Ah that luscious Grade A milk! ... And a hotel room with a free cake of soap on the basin!”

Patricia Highsmith Mountains that block the sun

American writer Patricia Highsmith spent her last 14 years in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, but set just one of her stories in the region.

Keystone-SDA/sm

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