John Grisham Biography & Facts
John Ray Grisham Jr. (; born February 8, 1955) is an American novelist, attorney, politician, and activist, best known for his popular legal thrillers. His books have been translated into 42 languages and published worldwide.
Grisham graduated from Mississippi State University and received a J.D. degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1981. He practiced criminal law for about a decade and served in the Mississippi House of Representatives from January 1984 to September 1990.His first novel, A Time to Kill, was published in June 1989, four years after he began writing it. According to Academy of Achievement his books have sold 300 million copies and he has written 28 consecutive number one bestsellers. A Galaxy British Book Awards winner, Grisham is one of only three authors to sell two million copies on a first printing, the other two being Tom Clancy and J. K. Rowling.Grisham's first bestseller, The Firm, sold more than seven million copies. The book was adapted into a 1993 feature film of the same name, starring Tom Cruise, and a 2012 TV series which continues the story ten years after the events of the film and novel. Eight of his other novels have also been adapted into films: The Chamber, The Client, A Painted House, The Pelican Brief, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, Skipping Christmas, and A Time to Kill. Grisham's latest book (his 42nd published novel), A Time for Mercy, is his third story involving the characters established in A Time to Kill and further follows the story of Jake Brigance, a Mississippi small town lawyer representing a minor accused of murder.
Grisham, the second of five siblings, was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to Wanda (née Skidmore) and John Ray Grisham. His father was a construction worker and a cotton farmer, and his mother was a homemaker. When Grisham was four years old, his family settled in Southaven, Mississippi, a suburb of Memphis, Tennessee.As a child, he wanted to be a baseball player. As noted in the foreword to Calico Joe, Grisham gave up playing baseball at the age of 18, after a game in which a pitcher aimed a beanball at him, and narrowly missed doing the young Grisham grave harm.
Grisham is a Christian who has described a salvation experience at age 8 as "the most important event" in his life. After leaving law school, he participated in some missionary work in Brazil, under the First Baptist Church of Oxford.Although Grisham's parents lacked formal education, his mother encouraged him to read and prepare for college. He drew on his childhood experiences for his novel A Painted House. Grisham started working for a plant nursery as a teenager, watering bushes for $1.00 an hour. He was soon promoted to a fence crew for $1.50 an hour. He wrote about the job: "there was no future in it". At 16, Grisham took a job with a plumbing contractor but says he "never drew inspiration from that miserable work".Through one of his father's contacts, he managed to find work on a highway asphalt crew in Mississippi at age 17. It was during this time that an unfortunate incident got him "serious" about college. A fight with gunfire broke out among the crew causing Grisham to run to a nearby restroom to find safety. He did not come out until after the police had detained the perpetrators. He hitchhiked home and started thinking about college. His next work was in retail, as a salesclerk in a department store men's underwear section, which he described as "humiliating". By this time, Grisham was halfway through college. Planning to become a tax lawyer, he was soon overcome by "the complexity and lunacy" of it. He decided to return to his hometown as a trial lawyer.He attended the Northwest Mississippi Community College in Senatobia, Mississippi and later attended Delta State University in Cleveland. Grisham changed colleges three times before completing a degree. He eventually graduated from Mississippi State University in 1977, receiving a B.S. degree in accounting. He later enrolled in the University of Mississippi School of Law to become a tax lawyer, but his interest shifted to general civil litigation. He graduated in 1981 with a J.D. degree.
Law and politics
Grisham practiced law for about a decade and won election as a Democrat to the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1984 to 1990, at an annual salary of $8,000.Grisham represented the seventh district, which included DeSoto County. By his second term in the Mississippi state legislature, he was the vice-chairman of the Apportionment and Elections Committee and a member of several other committees.Grisham's writing career blossomed with the success of his second book, The Firm, and he gave up practicing law, except for returning briefly in 1996 to fight for the family of a railroad worker who was killed on the job. His official website states: "He was honoring a commitment made before he had retired from the law to become a full-time writer. Grisham successfully argued his clients' case, earning them a jury award of $683,500 — the biggest verdict of his career."
Grisham said the big case came in 1984, but it was not his case. As he was hanging around the court, he overheard a 12-year-old girl telling the jury what had happened to her. Her story intrigued Grisham, and he began watching the trial. He saw how the members of the jury cried as she told them about having been raped and beaten. It was then, Grisham later wrote in The New York Times, that a story was born.Musing over "what would have happened if the girl's father had murdered her assailants", took three years to complete his first book, A Time to Kill. The book was rejected by 28 publishers before Wynwood Press, an unknown publisher, agreed to give it a modest 5,000-copy printing. It was published in June 1989.The day after Grisham completed A Time to Kill, he began work on his second novel, The Firm. The Firm remained on The New York Times Best Seller list for 47 weeks, and became the seventh bestselling novel of 1991. This would begin a streak of having one of the top 10 selling novels of the year for nearly the next two decades. In 1992 and 1993 he had the second bestselling book of the year with The Pelican Brief and The Client and from 1994 to 2000 he had the number one bestselling book every year. In 2001 Grisham did not have the bestselling book of the year but he did have both the second as well as third book on the list with Skipping Christmas and A Painted House.
In 1992, The Firm was made into a film starring Tom Cruise and was released in June 1993, grossing $270 million. A filmed version of The Pelican Brief starring Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington was released later that year and grossed $195 million. Following their success, Regency Enterprises paid Grisham $2.25 million for the rights to The Client which was released in 1994 starring Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones and then Universal Pictures paid him the highest amount ever for an unpubl.... Discover the John Grisham popular books. Find the top 100 most popular John Grisham books.