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Sue Grafton

Essay by review  •  December 7, 2010  •  Research Paper  •  2,527 Words (11 Pages)  •  1,807 Views

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On April 24, 1940, Sue Grafton was born to Cornelius Warren, an attorney and novelist, and Vivian Boisseau (Harnsberger) Grafton, a high school chemistry teacher, in Louisville, Kentucky. ("Sue Grafton" I 1) Her father, also called Chip, wrote and published three psychological mysteries and a novel as C.W. Grafton. ("Sue Grafton" I 1) With her parents being a lawyer, writer, and teacher, there were various books around the house that her mother labeled: dirty, dull, or good. ("Sue Grafton" I 1) At an early age, Sue Grafton was already pursuing her love for literature given that her parents allowed her older sister, Ann, and her to read any book of their choice. ("Sue Grafton" I 1) As Sue was indulged in adult crime novels, her friends were only reading Nancy Drew mysteries. ("Sue Grafton" I 1) Even with both her parents being alcoholics, she credits them, her father more so than her mother, for her initial love and inspiration in detective fiction and reading in general. ("Sue Grafton" I 1)

Sue Grafton first got married when she was only eighteen years old, and began college at the University of Louisville. ("Sue Grafton" II 1) Although Grafton maintained above-average grades, she was not at all devoted to her schoolwork, but "driven by her fright of poor performance." ("Sue Grafton" I 1) During her junior year, Grafton gave birth to her first child. ("Sue Grafton" I 2) She and her husband named their daughter Leslie Flood. ("Sue Grafton" II 3) Grafton graduated and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Louisville in 1961 with a major in English Literature and minors in Humanities and Fine Arts. (Grafton 1) In the fall of 1961 at the University of Cincinnati, she initiated her graduate studies in English. ("Sue Grafton" III 2) Though, she dropped out before the end of her first year, viewing the curriculum as "stifling and overly political." ("Sue Grafton" III 2) Grafton and her husband divorced in late 1961, only for her to quickly remarry the following year. ("Sue Grafton" II 1)

Soon after their marriage, the two moved out to the west coast into California. ("Sue Grafton" I 2) Here, Grafton enrolled in a creative writing course at the University of California at Los Angeles. ("Sue Grafton" I 2) Robert Kirsh, who at the time was the book editor of the Los Angeles Times, taught the class, and encouraged Grafton to write novels. ("Sue Grafton" I 2) While in California, she and her second husband had a daughter, Jamie Schmidt, and a son, Jay Schmidt. ("Sue Grafton" II 3)

Before settling down as one of America's best-selling authors, Grafton held a variety of jobs including hospital admissions clerk, cashier, and clerical/ medical secretary. ("Sue Grafton" IV, 1) She took her experiences and knowledge gained from working in hospitals, and used it as material in some of her later books. ("Sue Grafton" III, 3) Along side the hospital work, she traveled to several colleges and a number of writers' conferences to give lectures. ("Sue Grafton" IV 1) Since she still had a passion for literature, Grafton stuck with her ambitions to be a writer, and wrote on her own time. ("Sue Grafton" I, 2) After four book-length manuscripts, she came out with her first novel, Keziah Dane, in 1967. ("Sue Grafton" I 2) Two years later in 1969, Grafton pushed her second novel out, The Lolly-Madonna War, which only caught the eye of film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. ("Sue Grafton" I 2) Grafton, in company with Rodney Carr-Smith, agreed to write the script of the screenplay which would come out in 1973. ("Sue Grafton" I 2) A year before the movie hit Hollywood, Grafton divorced her second husband, and ran off to Los Angeles with their two children. (Waxman 5) For the next couple of years, she played around with screenplays, mostly television scripts that she had modified from novels written by other authors. ("Sue Grafton" I 2)

On October 1, 1978, Grafton remarried for the third time to Stephen F. Humphrey, a professor of philosophy. (Chapman 198) With custody battles occurring between her and her second husband, Grafton developed the basis of her outline for her first novel of the alphabetical mystery series, "A" Is for Alibi, published in 1982. ("Sue Grafton" I 2) Having much hatred toward her ex-husband built-up inside, she came up with a poisonous murder plot that served as a "catharsis" for her feelings toward her second husband. ("Sue Grafton" I 2). Towards the beginning of the series, Grafton and her husband published Kinsey and Me in 1992, which was a collection of stories about Grafton's main character throughout the series, Kinsey Millhone. ("Sue Grafton" IV 2) Grafton focused all of her attention toward the alphabet series, working to come out with a book a year. ("Sue Grafton" II 2) At this pace, she has managed to work all the way through "S" Is for Silence which was published in 2005. ("Sue Grafton" IV 3)

Throughout the years, Sue Grafton has received a number of awards for many of her works. The first book of her mystery series, "A" Is for Alibi, received the Mysterious Stranger Award from the Cloak and Clue Society for 1982-1983. (Chapman 199) Grafton was awarded the Shamus Award for "B" Is for Burglar from the Private Eye Writers of America for the best hardcover private eye novel of 1985. ("Sue Grafton" II 1) She has received the Doubleday Mystery Guild Award six times for "E" Is for Evidence, "F" Is for Fugitive, "G" Is for Gumshoe, "H" Is for Homicide, "I" Is for Innocent, and "K" Is for Killer. ("Sue Grafton" III 3) "G" Is for Gumshoe also received the Shamus Award, along with the Anthony Award both in 1991. (Chapman 199)

With her books published in twenty-eight countries and in twenty-six different languages, Grafton has managed to make herself known world-wide as one of America's best twentieth century mystery writers. ("Sue Grafton" I 1) She and her third husband of almost thirty years, Humphrey, have a house in Montecito, California and Louisville, Kentucky. ("Sue Grafton" IV 1) She has a routine schedule that she follows: awakes early to swim, writes from 9:30p.m. to 3:30p.m., breaks for lunch, exercises again, eats dinner at 6p.m., and asleep by 7:30 or 8p.m. ("Sue Grafton" I 3) Besides writing her detective mysteries, Grafton, sixty-six now, also enjoys reading, walking, bridge, and cooking. (Chapman 198) She's an active member in several organizations

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