Open main menu

William Thomas Harris III[1] (born September 22, 1940) is an American writer, best known for a series of suspense novels about his most famous character, Hannibal Lecter. The majority of his works have been made into films, the most notable being The Silence of the Lambs, which became only the third film in Academy Awards history to sweep the Oscars in major categories.[2]

Thomas Harris
Born (1940-09-22) September 22, 1940 (age 78)
Jackson, Tennessee, U.S.
EducationEnglish language
Alma materBaylor University
GenreCrime, horror, suspense
Notable worksRed Dragon
The Silence of the Lambs
Hannibal Rising
Black Sunday
Cari Mora
PartnerPace Barnes



Harris was born in Jackson, Tennessee,[3] but moved as a child with his family to Rich, Mississippi. He was introverted and bookish in grade school and then blossomed in high school.[4] He attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he majored in English and graduated in 1964. While in college, he worked as a reporter for the local newspaper, the Waco Tribune-Herald, covering the police beat. In 1968, he moved to New York City to work for Associated Press until 1974 when he began work on Black Sunday.[5]

Personal lifeEdit

Little is known about Harris's personal life as he avoids publicity and has not given an interview since 1976.[6] At Baylor University he met and married Harriet Anne Haley, a fellow student, in June 1961. They had one daughter, Elizabeth Anne, before they divorced in August 1968.[7] Harris remained close to his mother Polly throughout his life and called her every night no matter where he was. He often discussed particular scenes from his novels with her.[8] Polly died on December 31, 2011.[9]

He lives in South Florida and has a summer home in Sag Harbor, New York.[10] His long-term domestic partner is Pace Barnes, a woman who, according to USA Today, "used to work in publishing and is as outgoing as he is quiet."[11] Harris' friend and literary agent Morton Janklow said of him: "He's one of the good guys. He is big, bearded and wonderfully jovial. If you met him, you would think he was a choirmaster. He loves cooking—he's done the Le Cordon Bleu exams—and it's great fun to sit with him in the kitchen while he prepares a meal and see that he's as happy as a clam. He has these old-fashioned manners, a courtliness you associate with the South."[12]

Approach to writing and critical receptionEdit

Fellow novelist Stephen King has remarked that if writing is sometimes tedious for other authors, to Harris it is like "writhing on the floor in agonies of frustration", because, for Harris, "the very act of writing is a kind of torment". Novelist John Dunning said of Harris, "All he is is a talent of the first rank."[13]



See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Texas Birth Index, 1903-1997 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005.
  2. ^ Conklin 1999
  3. ^ Cowley 2006 p. 45
  4. ^ Laughlin 1999
  5. ^ Conklin 1999
  6. ^ Hoban 1991
  7. ^ Streibling 2001
  8. ^ Cowley 2006 p. 45
  9. ^ Bolivar 2012
  10. ^ Hoban 1991
  11. ^ Minzesheimer 1999
  12. ^ Cowley 2006 p. 45
  13. ^ Dunning 1992 p. 159
  14. ^ "Cari Mora, by Thomas Harris". Grand Cenral Publishing. January 9, 2019. Retrieved January 9, 2019.

External linksEdit