The Historical Birthday-Tea Party 18th January

highsmithNo birthday girl today, but three tomorrow, so let’s get in an early celebration of Patricia Highsmith (19th January 1921).

Highsmith is one of those people I admire without much liking. I don’t enjoy her crime novels, and consider them sadistic. However she was a bit of a trail blazer with her novel Carol (aka The Price of Salt), published in 1952 under the pseudonym Claire Morgan, in particular as this was a lesbian novel with something approaching a happy ending, something unheard of at the time, and to be blunt pretty rare for a long time thereafter. It was at least 1986 before I found an unequivocal happy ending for a lesbian novel – generally back then the endings were: death (especially suicide) or major illness/disability, madness, eternal separation or (god help us) marriage, and I mean the conventional sort.

Highsmith never married or had children. Her most significant relationships were with women, in particular  Marijane Meaker, who wrote under the pseudonyms of Vin Packer and Ann Aldrich, and pretty much started the lesbian pulp fiction movement. Meaker wrote of their relationship in Highsmith: A Romance of the 1950s.

I get the impression that Highsmith was a bigoted pain in the butt, given to being unkind and arch. So perhaps the person to invite to the party would be her alter-ego, Claire Morgan, and serve champagne, because we can all be grateful for a happy ending, however compromised.

How was it possible to be afraid and in love… The two things did not go together. How was it possible to be afraid, when the two of them grew stronger together every day? And every night. Every night was different, and every morning. Together they possessed a miracle.

But there was not a moment when she did not see Carol in her mind, and all she saw, she seemed to see through Carol.


Author: Cherry Potts

Cherry Potts is a published fiction writer, publisher, event organiser, photographer, cardmaker, NLP master practitioner, life coach and trainer. She is an enthusiastic singer. Through Arachne Press she publishes fiction and non fiction and runs spoken word events and cross-arts workshops for writers at interesting venues. Always interested in new opportunites to perform, write or explore writing.

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