Mary Theresa Eleanor Higgins, better known as Mary Higgins Clark is the bestselling American author of suspense novels. All her 24 novels have been chartbusters, selling more than 80 million copies as of 2007 in the United States only. She was born in the Bronx, New York on December 24, 1929. Her parents were Irish immigrants who ran a pub which eventually had to be shut down by the time Higgins was eleven due to the declining conditions of business during the great depression and the sudden death of Higgins’ father. Possessing a flair for writing, young Mary would devote a lot of her time to writing. She composed her first poem at the age of seven. She contributed to the family income by working part time as a switch board operator at a hotel.
After graduating from high school, Higgins received a partial scholarship at Wood Secretarial School and accepted the position of a secretary at the advertising department at Remington-Rand after completing her coursework. In addition to working in advertising and promotion, Higgins also modeled for company brochures. After some time, Higgins’ interest shifted and she aspired to become a flight attendant. Most of her time during 1949 was spend aboard Pan Am International flights after which she gave up the profession happily to marry Warren Clark. The couple had five children whom they raised well encouraging them to get meaningful education and become independent successful individuals, something the parents achieved in due time.
Higgins began taking writing courses at NYU after marriage and began her career as a writer selling her short stories to various publications. She was left a widow with five children to take care of when Warren Clark died in 1964. In a desperate attempt to earn money to cater to the needs of her children, Higgins worked as radio scriptwriter, writing numerous four minute programs. However, the job and short story writing were not proving to be enough to provide for her children. Taking advice of her agent, Higgins began writing her first novel. Aspire to the Heavens was published in 1968. Although the book gave her a small amount of advance, it encouraged her to continue writing novels. Her second novel, also her first suspense novel, Where are the Children? (1975) became an instant bestseller. She wrote the novel alongside starting a radio scriptwriting and marketing business with former colleagues. The success of Where are the Children? was enough to end Higgins’ financial troubles.
For Mary Higgins Clark, there was no looking back and she continues to produce bestselling suspense fictions. Her latest novel, I’ll Walk Alone was released in 2011. Five of her novels have been adapted to screen in movies while numerous have been aired on television as series. A prolific writer, Higgins works at home in a tower like room she has made her office. She begins working at 8:00am after breakfast till 2:00pm. She conducts lectures on a cruise ship once a year which gives her a change from her usual routine and a different environment to write in. In 1996, Higgins married the retired CEO of Merrill Lynch Futures, John J. Conheeney. The couple own homes in Manhattan, Spring Lake, New Jersey, and Dennis, Massachusetts but prefer to live in Saddle River, New Jersey.
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Mary Higgins Clark
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Mary Higgins Clark Books In Order
Publication Order of Alvirah and Willy Books
Publication Order of Under Suspicion Books
Publication Order of Standalone Novels
Publication Order of Short Story Collections
Publication Order of Anthologies
Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books
Mary Higgins Clark was born on 24th December 1927.She is the only daughter in a family of three children. Mary Higgins Clark is one and half years younger than her elder brother Joseph and three years older than her younger brother John. Mary Higgins Clark’s father Luke Higgins and mother Nora are of Irish descent though Nora was born in the United States of America. At her childhood age, Mary had an interest in writing. At the age of seven, Mary Higgins Clark shockingly composed her first poem and frequently crafted some short plays that her friends enacted.
Mary Higgins Clark was still a baby during the time of Great Depression in the world. Initially her family never felt the effect of the Depression. This is because her family was able to sustain itself and also assist some of the jobless Americans who knocked at their door. Mary Higgins Clark’s family began to experience some financial constraints when she turned ten. This was as a result of the accumulated debts by customers who failed to be prompt in paying the bar tabs they owed her father. Her father had no option other than retrenching some of his employees and spending more hours at work. Events took a painful turn in 1939, when Mary went home early from Mass to learn that her father had died while asleep.
Her mother Nora struggled as a widow to raise them, and Mary was forced to get out of her bedroom which her mother rented out to boarders. His elder brother posed risk of contracting osteomyelitis after cutting his foot by a piece of metal six months after the death of their father. However, he recovered through prayers by Mary Higgins and her mother.
Mary Higgins Clark graduated from Saint Francis Xavier Grammar School and managed to secure a scholarship at Villa Maria Academy. The principal together with other teachers encouraged her to develop her writing career. Here, Mary made the first attempt publishing her work but unfortunately her work got rejected.
Mary Higgins Clark worked at Shelton Hotel as a switchboard operator in order to help her mother pay their bills. Her brother Joseph graduated in 1944 from high school and immediately joined Navy to help his mother to pay bills and serve his country during war times. Six months later, Joseph contracted spinal meningitis and passed on.
After Joseph’s death, Mary Higgins Clark completed high school and attended Wood Secretarial School on a partial scholarship. One year after completing her course, she secured a secretarial job at the creative department of an advertising division at Remington-Rand. In 1949, Mary worked with the Pan Am international flights that saw her travel across the globe. On the 26th day of December 1949, Mary Higgins Clark gave up her flying career and married Warren Clark. She then started taking writing courses at NYU, to keep herself busy.
In 1956, after forty rejections and six years without professional milestones, the Extension Magazine came to terms with Mary to purchase her story for $100. At personal level, Mary Higgins Clark and her husband were moving on well with their children Marilyn, Warren Junior, David, Carol and last born Patty. Warren used to work while Mary spent her time writing and encouraging her children to find ways to earn money. Mary Higgins Clark filmed a television commercial herself for the Fab laundry detergent which was aired during times of the ‘I Love Lucy show’. Together with her husband they made a trip to Hawaii using the cash she earned from this commercial.
In 1959 Mary’s husband Warren was diagnosed with severe angina complications. This rendered him to several heart attacks that finally saw him die in 1964.His mother collapsed at his bedside on that particular night on discovering her son’s death. Mary Higgins Clark lost her husband and mother-in-law at the same time.
The initial contract of Mary Higgins Clark as a radio scriptwriter gave her duty to write sixty five scripts, each script running on a four-minute program that dealt with the portrait patriot series. With her impressive work, she was further requested to write two extra radio series. In the late 1960s, the market for short stories collapsed and that meant that Mary’s short stories could not find a publisher. Mary spent the next six years writing on the relationship between Martha and George Washington’s fictionalized account by name,’Aspire to the Heavens’. This book did sell well and encouraged Mary to complete it to full-length and look for a publisher. Four months after the publication of this novel, Marry Higgins Clark got another blow by losing her mother Nora.
Mary Higgins Clark knew clearly that education for her children was essential, and therefore was determined to provide them with the best education so that they could not struggle financially in future. To be a role model, she joined Fordham University in 1971 at Lincoln Centre and graduated in 1979 with a BA in philosophy. Her children enumerated her example since they too graduated and are currently working. When her children were in college, Mary Higgins Clark got more frustrations from her employer; she decided to quit her job and team up with her former colleagues to form their own company that was concerned with writing and marketing the radio scripts. Mary Higgins Clark did not receive her salary for eight months as it was a year of building the company. This circumstance strained the family finances.
Mary Higgins Clark never gave up writing. She reverted to writing suspense stories, which she loved while she was a child. Fortunately, these suspense stories gave her first success as a writer of short stories. After a short duration of time, her younger brother; Johnny died and Mary was left to be a sole bread winner to her family.
Throughout her widowhood, Mary Higgins Clark dated and was later married to Raymond Ploetz as from 1978 to 1986, what she tells to be a ‘disastrous marriage experience’. However, she later divorced him. She remarried again in 1996 to Conheeney John; a retired CEO to Merrill Lynch Futures Company. Currently the couple lives in Saddle River in New Jersey.
Mary Higgins Clark wrote many fictionally books ranging from; ‘Aspire to the Heavens’ which was reissued in 2000 as ‘Mount Vernon Love Story’ to 2014’s edition, ‘I’ve Got You under My Skin’. She has also written two factual books; the 1993’s ‘Mother Salut’ and 2001’s ‘Kitchen Privileges, A Memoir’. She adapted five movies from the 1982’s ‘A Stranger Is Watching’ to 2002’s movie ‘All Round the Town’. Her television adaptations range from 1983’s ‘The Cradle Will Fall’ to 2004’s ‘Try to Remember’ series. She truly did exclusive writing works despite the many persisting set backs in her life.Book Series In Order » Authors »