1955–, American novelist and lawyer, b. Jonesboro, Ark., grad. Mississippi State Univ. (B.S., 1977), Univ. of Mississippi School of Law (J.D., 1981). He practiced law for nearly a decade and served (1984–90) in the Mississippi house of representatives. His first novel, A Time to Kill
(1988, film 1996), was based on a local rape case. His next, The Firm
(1991, film 1993), established Grisham as the preeminent writer of legal thrillers. Since 1991, when he stopped practicing law, he has written almost a novel a year, most based on some aspect of the law and nearly all best sellers. Many have been optioned by Hollywood, including The Pelican Brief
(1992, film 1993), The Client
(1993, film 1994), and Runaway Jury
(1996, film 2003). He also has written several novels on nonlegal subjects, e.g., A Painted House
(2001) and Bleachers
(2003); legal nonfiction, The Innocent Man
(2006); and a volume of short stories, Ford County
See M. B. Pringle, John Grisham: A Critical Companion (upd. ed. 2007).
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