Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Biography and career
The second eldest of five siblings, Grisham was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to Southern Baptist parents of modest means. His father worked as a construction worker and a cotton farmer. After moving frequently, the family settled in 1967 in the small town of Southaven in De Soto County, Mississippi. Encouraged by his mother, young Grisham was an avid reader who was especially influenced by the work of John Steinbeck whose clarity he admired. In 1977, Grisham received a B.Sc. degree in accounting from Mississippi State University. While studying at MSU, the author began keeping a journal, a practice that would later assist in his creative endeavors. After earning his J.D. degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1981, he went on to practice small-town general law for nearly a decade in Southaven, where he became bored with criminal law and successful at civil law.
In 1984 at the De Soto County courthouse in Hernando, Grisham witnessed the harrowing testimony of a 12-year-old rape victim. In his spare time and as a hobby, Grisham began work on his first novel, which explored what would have happened if the girl's father had murdered her assailants. He spent three years on A Time to Kill and finished it in 1987. Initially rejected by many publishers, it was eventually bought by Wynwood Press, which gave it a modest 5,000-copy printing and published it in June 1988.
The day after Grisham completed A Time to Kill, he began work on another novel, the story of a young attorney lured to an apparently perfect law firm that was not what it appeared. That second novel, The Firm, became the bestselling novel of 1991. Grisham went on to produce at least one work a year, most of them widely popular bestsellers. Beginning with A Painted House in 2001, the author changed his focus from the law to the more general rural south.
Publishers Weekly declared Grisham "the bestselling novelist of the 90s."
In 1996, Grisham briefly returned to the practice of law when he successfully represented the family of a man killed in a railroad accident.
The Mississippi State University Libraries, Manuscript Division, maintains the "John Grisham Papers," an archive containing materials generated during the author's tenure as Mississippi State Representative and relating to his writings.
Grisham's lifelong passion for baseball is evident in his novel, A Painted House and in his support of Little League activities in both Oxford, Mississippi and Charlottesville, Virginia. He has also performed mission service for his church, notably in Brazil. Grisham describes himself as a "moderate Baptist." He lives with his wife Renee, (née Jones) and their two children, Ty and Shea. The family splits their time between their Victorian home on a farm outside Oxford and a plantation near Charlottesville.
- Skipping Christmas (2001)
- Official Site of John Grisham
- Exclusive interview with online video from Achievement.org
- Films based on John Grisham's books: Internet Movie Database
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