John Grisham was born February 8, 1955 to a construction worker and a homemaker. He grew up with aspirations of being a professional baseball player but quickly disbanded these childish yearnings when he realized he just didn’t have the talent to compete. On his path for a more realistic career he majored in accounting at Mississippi State University and went on to graduate from Ole Miss in 1981. He practiced law for nearly ten years specializing in criminal defense and personal injury litigation.
It was while working in the Desoto County Courthouse that he first gained inspiration for his first novel A Time to Kill. John overheard the testimony a twelve year old rape victim and started to develop a story revolving around the girl's father and what would have happened had he killed her assailants.
All in all Grisham has written 14 novels, 6 of which were turned into major motion pictures, and one screenplay (The Gingerbread Man).
A Time to Kill: (1989) Grisham’s first novel centers around a white lawyer fresh out of law school and struggling to pay the bills comes to be counsel for Carl Lee, the father of a young girl, Tonya, who was sexually assaulted, raped, beaten, and left for dead by two backwoods hicks. Carl Lee decides to take the “law into his own hands” and eradicate the two criminals from the face of the earth as he knows that they are white and will most likely be let out with a small tap on the wrist. Throughout the novel, Jake and Carl Lee must overcome the stigmas of the times centering around race, put up with attacks from the KKK, and other such personal attacks.
The Firm: (1991) Once again a young lawyer who graduated top of his class is faced with a struggle. Mitch McDeere graduated top of his class and signed on with a prominent law firm in Memphis. They leased him a new BMW, paid his loans, and got him a comfortable apartment. While he thinks all is going well, the FBI is closing in on the firm but needs concrete evidence to bring them down. They get Mitch’s help and put him in a spot to fight for his life.
The Pelican Brief: (1992) “In suburban Georgetown a killer's Reeboks whisper on the front floor of a posh home... In a seedy D.C. porno house a patron is swiftly garroted to death... The next day America learns that two of its Supreme Court justices have been assassinated. And in New Orleans, a young law student prepares a legal brief... To Darby Shaw it was no more than a legal shot in the dark, a brilliant guess. To the Washington establishment it was political dynamite. Suddenly Darby is witness to a murder -- a murder intended for her. Going underground, she finds there is only one person she can trust -- an ambitious reporter after a newsbreak hotter than Watergate -- to help her piece together the deadly puzzle. Somewhere between the bayous of Louisiana and the White House's inner sanctums, a violent cover-up is being engineered. For someone has read Darby's brief. Someone who will stop at nothing to destroy the evidence of an unthinkable crime.” (jgrisham.com)
The Client: (1993) Mark Sway, while out on one of his excursions away from home to indulge in a forbidden cigarette, encounters a black Lincoln harboring a suicidal lawyer. When pulled inside Mark learns of the whereabouts of the much sought-after body. Connected to the crime by his butts, Mark is faced with the problem of running from the mafia who wants to keep the body hidden, and a crafty prosecutor willing to break the rules to learn what Mark knows. His only defense is a four-year veteran of the legal profession, Reggie Love.
The Chamber: (1994) “Twenty -six-year-old Adam Hall stands on the brink of a brilliant legal career. Now he is risking it all for a death-row killer and an impossible case. Maximum Security Unit, Mississippi State Prison: Sam Cayhall is a former Klansman and unrepentant racist now facing the death penalty for a fatal bombing in 1967. He has run out of chances -- except for one: the young, liberal Chicago lawyer who just happens to be his grandson. While the executioners prepare the gas chamber, while the protesters gather and the TV cameras wait, Adam has only days, hours, minutes to save his client. For between the two men is a chasm of shame, family lies, and secrets -- including the one secret that could save Sam Cayhall's life... or cost Adam his.” (jgrisham.com)
The Rainmaker: (1995) While enduring an assignment required of his law school class, Rudy Baylor encounters Dot and Buddy Black. The Black family has been fighting with their insurance company for years to try and get them to honor their contract and pay for Buddy’s leukemia treatments. Now that it is too late to save Buddy, they utilize Rudy and go after the company and expose one of the greatest scams in insurance claim history.
The Runaway Jury: (1996) A million dollar liability case against the tobacco company is in the hands of a "possessed" jury. Just who is responsible for the amounts of nicotine in cigarettes and a person's addiction? One man steps up to become the leader and seems to control all that is going on with the jury but he in turn is being controlled by a woman on the outside. Just who will be punished at the hands of this duo, the tobacco company or the cancer riddled plantiff?
The Partner: (1997)Patrick Lanigan fakes his death and watches from a nearby tree as they lower the casket full of ashes into his grave. He then makes off with a cool 90 million in cash that he embezzled from his law firm. As easily as it may be for him to disappear, it is easy to trace 90 million dollars. His crime catches up with him and he is found by his firm hiding in Brazil. Just what is to become of him now?
The Street Lawyer: (1998) A lawyer working for a prominent law firm was brutally attacked by a homeless man. While he survived, his attacker did not. Wondering who his assailant is, Michael starts investigating. He learns he was a mentally ill war veteran in and out of homeless shelters. In his research, Michael learns how his firm, Drake and Sweeny, is involved. Upon learning this he quits the firm and takes to the streets to be an advocate of the homeless.
The Testament: (1999) A well known billionaire, Troy Phelan, is on his death bed. But who to leave the money to? Rachel Vane is a woman who has devoted her life to “god” and to teach the “uncivilized” peoples of a small tribe in the Pantanal the workings of “god.” Nate O’Reilly is a down on his luck lawyer retained by Troy. It’s his job to make sure the money is properly taken care of however that may be.
The Brethren: (2000) While behind bars at minimum security prison Trumble, three ex-judges meet each day in the law library. They handle the lawsuits of the other inmates and fine tune their own mail scam. With a brilliant scam, the three lead on young homosexual men leading double lives, ie: ones in the closet and are leading normal heterosexual lives, even married, and then get them to send money or else they are exposed to their family and friends. Their plan seems to work until they meet that one wrong pen pal that refuses to be scammed.
A Painted House: (2001)This novel is highly autobiographical. John writes about what is was like growing up in the deep south. Seen through the eyes of a small boy on the Chandler farm, the reader sees a farming community where everyone knows everyone and tradition is respected. This summer, new Mexicans and a strange family have come to help bring in the cotton crop. With them comes trouble and a world full of havoc.
Skipping Christmas: (2001) The Krank family is fed up with the amount of time, money, and effort Christmas takes up. This year they decide to go without the holiday season and take a cruise instead. All is going well, they are losing weight and saving money, until their daughter calls and makes the announcement she has gotten engaged and wants to come home. Now the pressure is on and the hilarity begins.
The Summons: (2002) Judge Altee is dying. He has summoned his two sons home for one last meeting and to divide up his estate. When Ray gets there he finds his father dead on the couch. While looking around he finds over 3 million in cash hiding in the bottom doors of the bookcase. Where did the money come from? He spends the book untangling the mystery revolving around the found money and hiding it from his drug addict brother, Forrest.
When John is not busy writing novels, he is spending time with his wife, Renee, and their two children, Ty and Shea. They live on a large estate in Mississippi and also own a large plantation near Charlottesville, Virginia. His home in Mississippi houses an 18-hole golf course and 6 little league baseball fields in the backyard. He serves as commissioner for the little league in his town.
In 1996 he took a hiatus from writing to return to the courtroom and was the active council for the family of a rail road brakeman who lost his life after being pinned between two cars. He managed to bring in a $683,500 award from the jury by far the biggest verdict of his career.