Born in Jackson, Tennessee in 1940, Thomas Harris moved at a young age to Rich,
Mississippi, where his father became a farmer. He lived there until he graduated high
school, after which he attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He worked on his
English degree by day, and by night he worked as a reporter at the News-Tribune. While
doing this, he met a woman by the name of Harriet, whom he married. They had a
daughter Anne, before they divorced in the 60's.
Graduating in '64, he landed a job working as a reporter for the Associated Press in
New York City. He learned much of the world of crime through his time covering it daily,
which helped him later on when writing.
Not much else is known about Harris' personal life, as he seems to greatly value his privacy.
His first book, Black Sunday, was originally a collaboration between him and two
other reporters from work, Sam Maull and Dick Riley. They worked together at the
beginning, but Harris eventually took over. When the book, about a group of terrorists
who bomb the Super Bowl, was sold to Putnam, the three split the advances. Harris
however got most of the credit, and the royalties, for the book, which became a bestseller.
It was also made into a movie by Paramount in 1977.
After this, he devoted himself full time to writing. However, it was not until six years
later that he released his second book, Red Dragon. This is due to the fact that Harris
spends an extreme amount of time researching, striving for perfection in each
publication. One of the reasons that he seems to be so popular is because of his
meticulous attention to detail that seems to be so rare in authors nowadays. It told the
story of an FBI agent's search for a serial killer, a plot line which would become familiar
over his next two books as well. It also introduced a character who would go on to
become one of the most popular fictional characters of all time. Dr. Hannibal Lecter, is a
renowned psychiatrist, who could have used a bit more therapy himself, committed to an
institution after pleading insanity to multiple murder charges, the bodies of most of the
victims being cut up for meat and eaten, or served to others. Red Dragon was made into a
movie by the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, released in 1986 under the title
His next book, The Silence of the Lambs, released in 1988, is generally considered
one of the best suspense thrillers of the decade. It tells the story of a young FBI trainee,
Clarice Starling on the search for a serial killer who has abducted the daughter of the
senator. In order to find the killer, known as Buffalo Bill, in time to save the girl, Agent
Starling recruits the help of Dr. Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter. Starling saves the day,
but not before Dr. Lecter is able to escape, killing 6 people on his way out. This book was
made into a movie in 1991, and is regarded by many, including myself, as the best movie
of the decade. It won five academy awards, including Best Actor for Anthony Hopkins'
portrayal of Dr. Lecter, Best Actress for Jodie Foster's role as Clarice Starling, Best
Director for Jonathan Demme, Best Writing for a screenplay based on another medium, and Best
Hannibal, his last book as of yet, was released in 1999, and became almost an instant
best seller. Reaction to it was varied. While on its own, it is an outstanding book, many
people were overtly critical to it because they felt it did not live up to the standard set by
The Silence of the Lambs. Its plot follows Hannibal Lecter, who has been enjoying his
ten years of freedom. However, one of his victims who lived, minus a face, a
millionaire by the name of Mason Verger is plotting to capture Lecter and torture him to
death, which leaves Clarice Starling in the middle to try to capture Lecter while at the
same time keeping him away from Verger. It was also made into a motion picture, with
Hopkins again playing Lecter, but Foster replaced by Julianne Moore.