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Who is John Grisham?

Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus

John Grisham is an author best known for his top selling legal thrillers such as The Firm. He also served in the Mississippi House of Representatives, after being elected in 1983. Grisham's former work as an attorney provides the insight that gives his novels rich and intriguing storylines.

John Grisham was born 8 February 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas. As a child, he wanted to become a professional baseball player, but he says he did not have the talent for that and always enjoyed the world of business. He moved to Southaven, Mississippi in 1967 and earned a bachelor's degree from Mississippi University in accounting in 1977, before attending the University of Mississippi law school.

John Grisham was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas.
John Grisham was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

He received his law degree and married Renee Jones in 1981. His law office handled criminal and civil cases. His first novel, A Time to Kill, was somewhat successful, but his second legal thriller, 1991's The Firm, was an amazing success. Paramount Pictures even bought the movie rights for The Firm, for $600,00 US Dollars (USD). A year before the book was published, he resigned from the Mississippi House of Representatives to live on a Mississippi farm.

Many of Grisham's books have been made into movies, including Skipping Christmas, which starred Jamie Lee Curtis.
Many of Grisham's books have been made into movies, including Skipping Christmas, which starred Jamie Lee Curtis.

The Firm tells the story of a new lawyer who lands a dream job with a fancy law firm only to find his life turned into a nightmare when murders begin happening at the law firm. The film version of The Firm stars Tom Cruise, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Gene Hackman. At least ten other John Grisham books have been made into motion pictures including The Pelican Brief in 1993 with Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington and The Client in 1994 with Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones.

Runaway Jury, is a 1996 John Grisham novel about jury manipulation. The 2003 film version of Runaway Jury was promoted with the tantalizing tagline: "Trials are too important to be decided by juries." The all-star cast features John Cusack, Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman.

A few of Grisham's books are not legal thrillers and do not even mention lawyers. Bleachers, published in 2003, is about a group of high school football players who reunite for their old coach's funeral. The story centers on whether the former students consider their coach good or bad when secrets about him begin to surface.

The 2001 story, Skipping Christmas, is about parents who consider not celebrating Christmas when they think their daughter will not be home for the holidays. Instead, they get stuck having to put together a big Christmas celebration on very short notice. Skipping Christmas was made into the 2004 family comedy Christmas with the Kranks. The movie stars Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis.

A Painted House, published in 2001, is an acclaimed John Grisham novel about life through the eyes of a poor, seven year old boy growing up on a farm in Arkansas. When agriculture workers are hired to help pick his family's cotton, the boy overhears life-altering secrets. The setting of A Painted House is similar to that of John Grisham's childhood.

Discussion Comments


As one fan of his great writings, I wish John Grisham a merry christmas and a happy new year.


@purplespark: In 1996, John Grisham took a break from writing for several months to return to the courtroom. He did this to honor a commitment that he made before he retired from law practice. He promised to represent the family of a railroad brakeman who was killed when he was pinned between two cars. He showed as much passion in the courtroom as he does as a writer. He successfully argued the case, earning the family an award of $683,500.

Grisham is to be commended for his charity work. When he is not writing, he is very involved with his church, going on many mission trips.

Grisham’s favorite author is said to be John Steinback.


@purplespark: Grisham’s first novel, A Time to Kill, is said to have been inspired by true events. It is based on testimony of a 12 year old rape victim at the De Soto County Courthouse. The novel was rejected several times before it finally got published.

Grisham’s father worked as a cotton farmer and a construction worker. As the article stated, Grisham dreamed of being a baseball player. Since that didn’t work out, he has built several baseball fields on his property. He has hosted over 300 children from over 2 dozen different little league teams.

Grisham has also contributed a great deal of money to the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.


Great article but I am looking for some additional information on John Grisham if anyone could help me out. Thanks!

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    • John Grisham was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas.
      By: Floki Fotos
      John Grisham was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas.
    • Many of Grisham's books have been made into movies, including Skipping Christmas, which starred Jamie Lee Curtis.
      By: Alan Light
      Many of Grisham's books have been made into movies, including Skipping Christmas, which starred Jamie Lee Curtis.