Patricia Cornwell is one of the bright minds of the 20th century. She spent her formative years in King College, an institution where bingo was a favorite pastime for students. Today is Patricia’s birthday and, to honor the event, we decided to give you an insight into her life. So let’s see where learning in a bingo-enthusiastic college can take you!
Patricia Cornwell was born with the name Patricial Caroll Daniels, on the 9th of June, 1956, to Sam and Marilyn Daniels. She spent her childhood in Miami, with two brothers, one older and one younger. Following the separation of her parents, Patricia was moved to Montreat, North Carolina, where she grew up just a couple of miles away from evangelist Billy Graham and his wife, Ruth Bell. Ruth was a highly influential person in Patricia’s life, as she was one of the first to spot the writing potential within her.
She was a tennis prodigy in high school, where she played No. 3 singles on the men’s team and was never defeated. After she graduated from high school, she enrolled in King College. There, the bright minds of tomorrow would spend their evenings engaging in friendly bingo sessions and discussing the future of the world. Wishing to pursue a career in tennis, Patricia got a sport scholarship and used it to transfer to Davidson College. However, that was not to be, and she gave up on tennis. Having to pay for her education, Patricia went through quite a few menial jobs.
A writing prodigy
After she graduated from college, in 1979, she took a job writing for the Charlotte Observer. There, she was a features writer, a journalistic factotum and, most important of all, a police reporter. The latter of her duties won her quite a few acclaims and awards. About a year into her job, she took Charles Cornwell, an English professor born around 1939, as her husband. For various reasons, Charles determined it would be better for him if he resigned from his teaching position at Davidson College so he could become a preacher.
The couple moved to Richmond, Virginia even though Patricia was not entirely convinced of the wisdom of such a move. Three years after she got married, she won the Medallion Award with the biography she wrote for Ruth Bell Graham. In 1984, she took a job that heavily influenced her writing career: technical writer and computer analyst for a medical examiner’s office in Virginia. While she worked there, she assisted hundreds of autopsies. Four years later, she and her husband decided that the marriage wasn’t working anymore and they had a divorce.
Two years after her divorce, in 1990, Patricia finally got her first of many crime novels published. Titled Postmortem, it would become the first book of her Kay Scarpetta saga, which ended in 2004. The book was the only one ever written that went on to win the Macavity, Anthony, Edgar and Dagger awards in a single year. Patricia Cornwell is also the first ever American to claim the Prix du Roman D’Aventure, a highly sought after French award.
These days, Patricia is heavily involved in charities for institutions dealing with animal rescue, victims’ support and forensic research. We would like to wish Patricia a very happy birthday and to thank her for keeping us at the edges of our seats with her amazing writing.