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John Grisham biography

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John Grisham

John Grisham

How to pronounce John Grisham: jon GRISH-uhm

John Grisham Biography

Born on February 8, 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to a construction worker and a homemaker, John Grisham as a child dreamed of being a professional baseball player. Realizing he didn't have the right stuff for a pro career, he shifted gears and majored in accounting at Mississippi State University. After graduating from law school at Ole Miss in 1981, he went on to practice law for nearly a decade in Southaven, specializing in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. In 1983, he was elected to the state House of Representatives and served until 1990.

One day at the Dessoto County courthouse, Grisham was inspired to start a novel. Grisham 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, who published it in June 1988.

That might have put an end to Grisham's hobby. However, he had already begun his next book, and it would quickly turn that hobby into a new full-time career -- and spark one of publishing's greatest success stories. The day after Grisham completed A Time to Kill, he began work on another novel, the story of a hotshot young attorney lured to an apparently perfect law firm that was not what it appeared. When he sold the film rights to The Firm to Paramount Pictures for $600,000, Grisham suddenly became a hot property among publishers, and book rights were bought by Doubleday. Spending 47 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, The Firm became the bestselling novel of 1991.

The successes of The Pelican Brief, which hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and The Client, which debuted at number one, confirmed Grisham's reputation as the master of the legal thriller. Grisham's success even renewed interest in A Time to Kill, which was republished in hardcover by Doubleday and then in paperback by Dell. This time around, it was a bestseller.

Since first publishing A Time to Kill in 1988, Grisham has written one novel a year (his other books are The Chamber, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, The Partner, and The Street Lawyer), and all of them have become bestsellers, leading Publishers Weekly to declare him "the bestselling novelist of the 90s" in a January 1998 profile. There are currently over 60 million John Grisham books in print worldwide, which have been translated into 29 languages. Six of his novels have been turned into films (The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, A Time to Kill, The Rainmaker, and The Chamber), as was an original screenplay, The Gingerbread Man. The Innocent Man (October 2006) marked his first foray into non-fiction. The Associate was published in January 2009.

Grisham lives with his wife and their two children. The family splits their time between their Victorian home on a farm in Mississippi and a plantation near Charlottesville, VA.

Grisham took time off from writing for several months in 1996 to return, after a five-year hiatus, to the courtroom. He was honoring a commitment made before he had retired from the law to become a full-time writer: representing the family of a railroad brakeman killed when he was pinned between two cars. Grisham successfully argued his clients' case, earning them a jury award of $683,500 -- the biggest verdict of his career.

When he's not writing, Grisham devotes time to charitable causes including his Rebuild The Coast Fund, which raised money for Gulf Coast relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He also serves as the local Little League commissioner.

John Grisham's website

This bio was last updated on 06/16/2017. In a perfect world, we would like to keep all of BookBrowse's biographies up to date, but with many thousands of lives to keep track of it's simply impossible to do. So, if the date of this bio is not recent, you may wish to do an internet search for a more current source, such as the author's website or social media presence. If you are the author or publisher and would like us to update this biography, send the complete text and we will replace the old with the new.

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Books by this Author

Books by John Grisham at BookBrowse
The Racketeer jacket The Confession jacket Theodore Boone jacket The Associate jacket
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Read-Alikes

All the books below are recommended as read-alikes for John Grisham but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose read-alikes

  • David Baldacci

    David Baldacci

    David published his first novel, Absolute Power, in 1996. A major motion picture adaptation followed, with Clint Eastwood as its director and star. In total, David has published 32 novels for adults; all have been national ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Street Lawyer

    Try:
    The Simple Truth
    by David Baldacci

  • Julian Barnes

    Julian Barnes

    Julian Barnes was born in Leicester, England on January 19, 1946. He was educated at the City of London School from 1957 to 1964 and at Magdalen College, Oxford, from which he graduated in modern languages (with honors) in ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Innocent Man

    Try:
    Arthur & George
    by Julian Barnes

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