John Grisham Biography & Facts
John Ray Grisham Jr. (; born February 8, 1955, in Jonesboro, Arkansas) is an American novelist, lawyer and former member of the 7th district of the Mississippi House of Representatives, known for his popular legal thrillers. According to the American Academy of Achievement, Grisham has written 28 consecutive number-one fiction bestsellers, and his books have sold 300 million copies worldwide. Along with Tom Clancy and J. K. Rowling, Grisham is one of only three authors to have sold two million copies on a first printing.Grisham graduated from Mississippi State University and earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1981. He practised criminal law for about a decade and served in the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1983 to 1990.Grisham's first novel, A Time to Kill, was published in June 1988, four years after he began writing it. 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. Seven 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, and Skipping Christmas''.
Grisham, the second of five children, 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.
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.After leaving law school, he participated in some missionary work in Brazil, under the First Baptist Church of Oxford.
Law and politics
Grisham practiced law for about a decade and won election as a Democrat to the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1983 to 1990. Grisham represented the 7th District, which included DeSoto County, Mississippi. By his second term in the 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 a case that inspired his first novel came in 1984, but it was not his case. He heard a 12-year-old girl telling a jury what had happened to her. Her story intrigued Grisham. He saw how the members of the jury cried as she told them about having been raped and beaten. "I remember staring at the defendant and wishing I had a gun." It was then, Grisham later wrote in The New York Times, that a story was born. Over the next three years he wrote 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 1988.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 and third books 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 unpublished novel, paying $3.75 million for the rights to The Chamber. In August 1994, New Regency paid a record $6 million for the rights to A Time to Kill, with Grisham asking for a guarantee that Joel Schumacher, the director of The Client, would direct.Beginning with A Painted House, Grisham broadened his focus from law to the more general rural South but continued to write legal thrillers at the rate of one a year. In 2002 he once again claimed the number one book of the year with The Summons. In 2003 and 2004 he.... Discover the John Grisham popular books. Find the top 100 most popular John Grisham books.