JOHN GRISHAM Biography - Writers


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John Grisham was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas. His father, a cotton farmer and         
itinerant construction worker moved the family frequently, from town to town         
throughout the Deep South, settling in Southaven, Mississippi in 1967. Although       
his parents lacked formal education, his mother encouraged him to read and           
insisted that he prepare himself for college.                                         
By his own account, he had no interest in writing until after he embarked on his     
professional career. For his first two years in college, Grisham drifted,             
attending three different colleges before earning a degree. After abandoning a       
youthful dream of a professional baseball career, he settled down to study           
accounting and prepare for a career as a tax lawyer. While in law school, his         
interest shifted from tax law to criminal law and litigation. After graduating       
from the University of Mississippi law school, he established a small private         
legal practice in Southaven Mississippi. He was elected the to Mississippi House     
of Representatives in 1983. By his second term he held the vice chairmanship of       
the Apportionment and Elections Committee, as well as memberships on the             
Insurance, Judiciary A, and Military Affairs Committee.                               
In Mississippi, attorneys in private practice are sometimes called upon to           
appear as public defenders for indigent clients. In this way, Grisham received       
invaluable experience of the criminal justice system. Inspired by a case he           
observed in a Mississippi courthouse, Grisham decided to write a novel. For           
years, he arrived at his office at five o'clock in the morning, six days a week,     
to work on his first book, A Time To Kill. His manuscript was rejected by 28         
publishers before he found an unknown publisher who was willing to print a short     
run. Without the benefit of a major publisher's marketing apparatus, the novice       
author went directly to booksellers, encouraging them to stock his book.             
Although A Time to Kill sold a disappointing 5,000 copies, Grisham had already       
begun work on a second novel The Firm. At the same time, bored with the routine       
of the state capital and eager to spend more time with his family, he decided         
not to seek re-election to the state legislature. He closed his law practice and     
moved his family to Oxford, Mississippi, determined to concentrate on his             
At age 36, his career as a novelist bloomed when movie rights to The Firm were       
sold for a hefty price, even before the book had found a publisher. The Firm,         
has sold more than seven million copies and spent 47 weeks on the New York Times     
bestseller list. Grisham's next offering, The Pelican Brief, sold six million         
copies. Within a few years, The Firm, The Pelican Brief, and his subsequent           
effort, The Client, (1993) had all been made into successful films. His other         
novels include The Chamber (1994), The Rainmaker (1995),The Runaway Jury (1996)       
and The Partner (1997).