The international phenomenon
that is John Grisham was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas, on February
8, 1955. He took up residence in Southaven, Mississippi, in 1967.
He received an undergraduate degree in accounting from Mississippi
State University in 1977 and then attended law
school at the University of
Mississippi, where he earned a law degree in 1981. That same
year, he married Renee Jones. He established a law practice in Southaven,
where he practiced both criminal and civil law. In 1983, he was
elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives. In 1989 he
published his first novel, A Time to Kill. The book received
some good reviews but sold only moderately well. His next book,
however, would be a different story. Completed in 1988, The Firm
would be his break-out hit. In 1990, before the novel was published,
Paramount Pictures purchased the film rights for $600,000. That
same year, he resigned from the House of Representatives and bought
a farm near Oxford, Mississippi.
Since then, Grisham has gone on
to be recognized as one of the world's bestselling novelists. In
addition to A Time to Kill and The Firm, his titles
include The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Chamber, and The
Rainmaker, each of which has been scripted into immensely successful
film versions. His most recent novels are The Partner (1997),
The Street Lawyer (1998), The Testament (1999), and
The Brethren (2000) .
In August 1994, he expanded his
list of job titles to include publisher as well, when he rescued
The Oxford American, a
struggling magazine based in the town of its title, from financial
destitution. In 2000, Grisham published A Painted House serially
in the magazine. The novel, set in 1952 Arkansas, is, as Grisham
readily admits, a departure from his usual style of novel. In a
letter to readers, he writes, “A Painted House is
not a legal thriller. In fact, there is not a single lawyer,
alive, in this story. Nor are there judges, trials, courtrooms,
conspiracies or nagging social issues.” The novel was published
as a single volume edition in 2001. Other departures from his
thrillers include Skipping Christmas (2001), which was adapted
into the motion picture Christmas with the Kranks (2004),
and Bleachers (2004),
a semi-autobiographical book about high school football.
In the spring of 2001, it was reported
that Grisham had written the screenplay for the film Mickey,
about the world of Little League baseball. Grisham also is serving
as producer for the movie, which is being directed by Hugh Wilson
and stars Harry Connick, Jr.
Grisham continues to write legal
thrillers, the most recent of which are The Summons (2002), The
King of Torts (2003), The Last Juror (2004), and most
recently, The Broker (2005).
He divides his time between a home in Charlottesville, Virginia,
Article first posted May 1998
Updated January 2005
Related Links & Info
Bantam-Doubleday (BDD) features this
page on Grisham. (Photo by Deborah Feingold)
- A Time to Kill. New York: Wynwood Press, 1989.
- The Firm. New York: Doubleday, 1991.
- The Pelican Brief. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
- The Client. New York: Doubleday, 1993.
- The Chamber. New York: Doubleday, 1994.
- The Rainmaker. New York: Doubleday, 1995.
- The Runaway Jury. New York: Doubleday, 1996.
- The Partner. New York: Doubleday, 1997.
- The Street Lawyer. New York: Doubleday, 1998.
- The Testament. New York: Doubleday, 1999.
- The Brethren. New York: Doubleday, 2000.
- A Painted House. Oxford, Mississippi: The Oxford
American (2000). New York: Doubleday, 2001.
- Skipping Christmas. New York: Doubleday, 2001.
- The Summons. New York: Doubleday, 2002.
- The King of Torts. New York: Doubleday, 2003.
- Bleachers. New York: Doubleday, 2003.
- The Last Juror. New York: Doubleday, 2004.
- The Broker. New York: Doubleday, 2005.
Firm. Dir. Sydney Pollack. Paramount Pictures, 1993.
Based on the novel.
Pelican Brief. Dir. Alan J. Pakula. Warner Bros., 1993.
Based on the novel.
Client. Dir. Joel Schumacher. Warner Bros., 1994. Based
on the Novel.
Chamber. Dir. James Foley. Universal Pictures, 1996.
Based on the novel.
Time to Kill. Dir. Joel Schumacher. Warner Bros., 1996.
Based on the novel.
Rainmaker. Dir. Francis Coppola. Constellation Films,
1997. Based on the novel.
Gingerbread Man. Story by John Grisham. Dir. Robert
Altman. Enchanter Entertainment, 1998.
- A Painted House. Dir.
Alfonso Arau. Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions and CBS-TV,
2003. Based on the novel.
- Runaway Jury. Dir.
Gary Fleder. New Regency Pictures, 2003. Based on the novel.
- The Street Lawyer. Dir.
Paris Barclay. Touchstone Television and ABC-TV, 2003.
Dir. Hugh Wilson. Original screenplay by John Grisham. Mickey Productions,
- Christmas with the
Kranks. Dir. Joe Roth. Skipping Christmas Productions,
1492 Pictures, and Revolution Studios, 2004. Based on the novel Skipping
Client. 1995-96. Based on the novel and movie.
Biographical and Author News:
- Arnold, Martin. “Now, Grisham by E-mail.” The New York Times
147 (29 January 1998): B9.
- Bearden, Michelle. “John Grisham: In Six Years, He's Gone from
Rejection Slips to Mega-Sales.” Publishers Weekly 240.8 (22
February 1993): 70-71.
- Brown, Ed. “Grisham's High Ground.” Fortune 136.5 (16 March
- Duffy, Martha. “Grisham's Law.” Time 145.19 (8 May 1995):
- Ferranti, Jennifer. “Grisham's Law.” Saturday Evening Post
269.2 (March-April 1997): 42-45.
- “Grisham, John.” Current Biography 54.9 (September 1993):
- “Why John Grisham Teaches Sunday School.” Interview. Christianity
Today 38.11 (3 October 1994): 14-15.
- Zaleski, Jeff. “The Grisham Business.” Publishers Weekly
245.3 (19 January 1998): 248.51.
Reviews and Criticism:
- Black, Joel. “Grisham's Demons.” College Literature 25.1 (Winter
- Bowman, James. Review of The Street Lawyer. National Review
50.6 (6 April 1998): 51-52.
- Cauthen, Cramer R., and Donald G. Alpin, III. “The Gift Refused: The
Southern Lawyer in To Kill a Mockingbird, The Client, and Cape
Fear. Studies in Popular Culture 19.2 (October 1996): 257-75.
- Diggs, Terry K. “Through a Glass Darkly; John Grisham and Scott Turow
Lay Down the Law for Millions of Americans. Just What Is It They're
Trying to Tell Us.” ABA Journal 82 (October 1996): 72-75.
- Drell, Adrienne. “Murder, They Write.” ABA Journal 80 (June
- Forbes, E. Ripley. Review of The Runaway Jury. Public Health
Reports 111.6 (November-December 1996): 556-57.
- Forbes, Steve. Review of The Partner. Forbes 159.10
(19 May 1997): 28.
- Ford-Kaus, Deborah. Review of The Client. Florida Bar Journal
67.7 (July-August 1993): 81.
- Galen, Michael. Review of The Firm. Business Week 3211
(29 April 1991): 14-15.
- Gates, David. Review of The Runaway Jury. Newsweek 127.22
(27 May 1996): 68.
- Gladwell, Malcolm. Review of The Runaway Jury. The New Republic
215.19 (4 November 4 1996): 27-34.
- Goodnight, G. Thomas. “The Firm, the Park and the University:
Fear and Trembling on the Postmodern Trail.” The Quarterly Journal
of Speech 81.3 (August 1995): 267-90.
- Kakutani, Michiko. Review of The Street Lawyer. The New
York Times 147 (10 February 1998): B1.
- Keymer, David. Review of A Time to Kill. Library Journal
114.11 (15 June 1989): 80.
- Klinkenborg, Verlyn. Review of The Firm. The New Republic
210.11 (14 March 1994): 32-38.
- Martin, Sara. “Masculinity and Justice: Generational Changes
in John Grishams The Chamber.” Journal of Criminal
Justice and Popular Culture 9.2 (Winter
- Prescott, Peter S. Review of The Firm. Newsweek 117
(25 February 1991): 63.
- Press, Aric. Review of The Pelican Brief. Newsweek 119.11
(16 March 1992): 73.
- Prial, Frank J. Review of The Pelican Brief. The New York
Times Book Review (15 March 1992): 9.
- Pringle, Mary Beth. John Grisham: A Critical Companion. Westport,
Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1997.
- Review of The Partner. The Economist 344.8026 (19 July
- Rockey, Alexandra. Review of The Chamber. Insight on the
News 10.28 (11 July 1994): 28.
- Sandler, Adam. “Grisham vs. Stone: 'Killer' opponents Murder
Sparks Novelist to Call for Action.” Variety 363.7 (17 June 1996):
- Skow, John. Review of The Chamber. Time 143.25 (20 June
- Skow, John. Review of The Pelican Brief Jury. Time 139.10
(9 March 1992): 70.
- Skow, John. Review of The Runaway Jury. Time 147.22
(27 May 1996): 85.
- Slover, Pete. Review of The Firm. ABA Journal 77 (April
- Stasio, Marilyn. Review of The Client. New York Times Book
Review (7 March 1993): 18.
- Stasio, Marilyn. Review of The Firm. New York Times Book
Review (24 March 1991): 37.
- Stasio, Marilyn. Review of The Street Lawyer. New York Times
Book Review (22 March 1998): 28.
- Stepp, Carl Sessions. Review of The Pelican Brief. Washington
Journalism Review 14.6 (July-August 1992): 50.
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