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December 24, 1927: “The Queen of Suspense” Mary Higgins Clark Was Born

Photo: via Sophie Bassouls/Sygma/Getty

On December 24, 1927, Mary Higgins Clark was born in the Bronx, NY. Known as “The Queen of Suspense,” she has penned over 50 books to date and has sold over 100 million books in the United States alone. Turning 90 today, her writing continues to thrill readers around the globe.

Born Mary Theresa Eleanor Higgins, she dreamed of becoming a writer. However, it took her awhile to achieve her goal. When she was 11, her father died, which left her heartbroken. “I think any time one parent goes, it’s never the same,” she said, “You’re flying on one wing.” Higgins Clark had to work odd jobs to help her mother and two other siblings make ends meet.

After graduating from high school, she worked as a secretary and then as a Pan Am flight attendant. At 22 she married her neighbor, Warren Clark, who proposed to her on their first date. She and Warren, who was nine years her senior, had five children together. As a young wife and mother, she started writing and sending short stories to magazines. Higgins Clark received 40 rejection letters in that time, yet her persistence and, as fate would have it, another tragedy led to her eventual success as a bestselling novelist.

Warren died of a heart attack in 1964 and she was suddenly a widow. She had to come up with a way to pay the bills. Higgins Clark pawned her jewelry, wrote radio scripts and started writing novels. Her first book, “Aspire to the Heavens,” was about George Washington and his wife Martha. It flopped at the bookstores. That’s when Higgins Clark looked at her own bookshelves and realized that they were comprised of mostly suspense and mystery books. She decided to start writing suspense novels and in 1975, she released her first best-selling book, “Where Are The Children?”

At 90, Higgins Clark is still writing and publishing books. Her most recent book, “All By Myself, Alone,” is a thrilling suspense novel that takes place on a brand new luxury cruise ship. In an interview, Clark once shared, “I have a need to write. There are people who would like to write, there are people who have a genuine talent for writing, and there are the rest of us — those of us who become known, who truly need to write.” Thanks to her drive to write, Clark was able to take control of her life and gift the world with products of her vivid imagination.

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