Patricia Cornwell: Biography

Patricia Cornwell

09 jun 1956

Patricia Cornwell (born on June 9, 1956, in Miami, Florida) is an American crime novelist, who has authored 29 New York Times bestsellers. Her books have been translated into 36 languages and have sold over 100 million copies worldwide.

After earning her degree in English from Davidson College, North Carolina, in 1979, Cornwell took a job at The Charlotte Observer as a reporter and soon received praise for her articles on prostitution and crime. In 1984, she moved to a job at the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Richmond, Virginia, where she worked for six years as a computer analyst, and also became a volunteer police officer. It was during that time that she wrote her debut novel, Postmortem (1990), which is considered the first forensic thriller and propelled her on to the world stage (the book would go on to win the Edgar, Creasey, Anthony, and Macavity awards, as well as the French Prix du Roman d’Aventure prize).

The recurring characters in Cornwell’s novels are Dr. Kay Scarpetta, a fearless chief medical examiner, along with her fellow investigator Pete Marino and her niece Lucy, who is proficient in the use of modern technology. Taut writing, escalating murders, mounting tension, police jargon, and plenty of cutting-edge forensic information are all present in a typical Scarpetta novel. The author is most credited for the development of popular television shows on forensics, such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, NCIS, and Dexter.

Cornwell has won the Sherlock Award for best detective created by an American author, the Gold Dagger Award, the RBA Thriller Award, and the Medal of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters for her contributions to literary and artistic development.

Patricia co-founded the Conservation Scientist Chair at the Harvard University Art Museums, advocates for psychiatric research in the Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital, and is committed to funding scholarships and literacy programs.