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John Ray Grisham Edit Profile

lawyer , author

John Ray Grisham, Jr. is a lawyer, politician and brilliant american writer of numerous novels best known for his legal thrillers. Many of his books have been made into popular Hollywood movies. John Grisham is the author of the legal thrillers A Time to Kill, The Firm, The Pelican Brief, and The Client and others. The list of his bestsellers has numbered more than 60 million in print across the world, and have been translated into 31 languages.


John Grisham was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas, the United States of America on February 8, 1955. He is the second born child of the five siblings in his family. His parents belonged to the Southern Baptist Church. Although they lacked formal education, his mother encouraged him to read and insisted that he prepare himself for college. John’s father, John Grisham Sr. worked as a construction worker and a cotton farmer; his mother, Wanda Skidmore Grisham was a homemaker. John’s childhood ambition was to be a baseball player.


John’s childhood ambition was to be a baseball player. When Grisham was four years old, the family began following his father’s construction jobs, eventually settling in 1967 in Southaven, Mississippi. While much of his life has been spent outside of Arkansas, he has strong ties to northeast Arkansas.

John graduated from Southaven High School in 1973 and enrolled in Northwest Junior College, Senatobia, Mississippi. The next year he transferred to Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, and tried out to play baseball there. Later, John and his friends left Delta State at the end of the semester and went to Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi.

He had transferred from two colleges and he did not have very good grades. Almost immediately, he changed his major to economics. In his first economics class, he witnessed a class discussion of students and the instructor in which the students were articulate, prepared, and unafraid of confronting the professor. He wanted to be part of that. He wanted to grow up and learn. He discovered that he preferred accounting to economics. His grades were salvageable. With hard working, he thought he could succeed. He also had thoughts of attending law school. John Grisham graduated with a B.S. in accounting from Mississippi State University in 1977.

Grisham then studied tax law at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Mississippi. Discovering that he did not like that specialty, he changed to criminal law. He graduated in 1981 with a law degree.


After graduating from the University of Mississippi law school, he returned to Southaven and was admitted to the state bar in Mississippi in 1981 and practiced until 1990. He was elected as a Democrat in the Mississippi House of Representatives from January 1984 until September 1990. Grisham represented the seventh district, which included De Soto County. By his second term at the Mississippi state legislature, he was the vice-chairman of the Apportionment and Elections Committee and a member of several other committees.

While serving in the Mississippi House, he observed a trial in the De Soto County Courthouse that changed his life. He heard the testimony of a twelve-year-old rape victim. He began exploring what would have happened if the girl’s father had killed her assailants. With the trial for the storyline and Steinbeck’s clear, clean writing style as a model, Grisham wrote his first novel, A Time to Kill. Most of the writings he did before going to the office and during courtroom recesses. The book was rejected by 28 publishers before «Wynnewood Press», an unknown publisher, agreed to give it a modest 5,000-copy printing. It was published in June 1989.

Although «A Time to Kill» sold a disappointing 5,000 copies, Grisham had already begun work on a second novel «The Firm». At the same time, bored with the routine of the state capital and eager to spend more time with his family, he decided not to seek re-election to the state legislature. He closed his office in Southaven and moved his family to Oxford, Mississippi, hoping to concentrate on his writing.

Since 1988, Grisham has written one book per year. His breakaway success came with his second novel, «The Firm». Although most of his novels are legal thrillers, Grisham has also written three books that break the mold, including «A Painted House», «Bleachers» and «Skipping Christmas».


  • His first best-seller, ‘The Firm’, released in 1991 and sold over than seven million copies worldwide. It became the first best-seller of the year 1991 and is known as his most widely-recognized novel. The book was adapted for a feature film of the same title, starring Tom Cruise and Gene Hackman. It was also adapted for television in 2011. Many of his novels have been translated in 29 languages.

    In 1993, his third novel, ‘The Pelican Brief’ became an international best-seller. A film adaptation of the same was released the same year starring Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts.

    His fourth novel, ‘The Client’, which was published in 1993, earned him widespread acclaim. The novel became so successful that it was adapted for film the very next year, starring Susan Sarandon. The film also became a huge hit, which went on to spawn a television series that ran from 1995 to 1995.


  • book

    • «Time to Kill»

    • «The Firm»

    • «The Client»

    • «The Chamber»

    • «The Runaway Jury»

    • «The Partner»

    • «The Street Lawyer»

    • «The Testament»

    • «The Summons»

    • «The Last Juror»

    • «The Broker»

    • «The Appeal»

    • «The Associate»

    • «The Confession»

    • «The Litigators»

    • «A Painted House»

    • «The Sycamore Row»


Grisham describes himself as a «moderate Baptist», and has performed mission service for his church, notably in Brazil. That country provides the setting for one of his novels «The Testament», which has a strong religious theme.

He said:

“I have some very deep religious convictions that I keep to myself, and when I see people using them for political gain it really irritates me.”


“I was encouraged because we’re mostly Democrats around here, and there was a good turnout. But things only really got exciting in the evening when it became clear that Obama was going to win.”

Grisham doesn’t sound excited, though. He may be a lifelong Democrat and a generous party donor, but he’s not Barack Obama’s biggest fan.

Yet the writer was surprised by the racist reaction to Obama both in the run-up to his 2008 election and four years later. “There are people in the South who would never consider voting for a Mormon because they consider Mormons to be weird. They embraced Romney for one reason: because he was white. That said, there’s so much pride here that we have elected an African American and that he’s a good, smart guy.”


Quotations: “I seriously doubt I would ever have written the first story had I not been a lawyer. I never dreamed of being a writer. I wrote only after witnessing a trial.”

“I’m not trying to write great literature. I’ll leave that to someone else, and I’m glad they do it because I like to read great literature. But I do what I do. It’s enough for me that when I write something like The Racketeer, about five million people all over the world will read it. When I see someone in an airport lounge or on the beach reading one of my books, it still makes me smile, 30 books on.”


  • The Innocence Project , United States


Grisham has a lifelong passion for baseball demonstrated partly by his support of Little League activities in both Oxford, Mississippi, and Charlottesville, Virginia. He wrote the original screenplay for and produced the baseball movie Mickey (2004), starring Harry Connick, Jr. He remains a fan of Mississippi State University's baseball team and wrote about his ties to the university and the Left Field Lounge in the introduction for the book Dudy Noble Field: A Celebration of MSU Baseball.


  • Politicians

    Hillary Rodham Clinton

  • Writers

    “The Grapes of Wrath,” by John Steinbeck

  • Sport & Clubs

    Baseball, the Mississippi State University’s baseball team


Grisham married Renee Jones in 1981, and the couple has two grown children together, Shea and Ty. The family spends their time in their home on a farm outside Oxford, Mississippi, and their other home near Charlottesville, Virginia. Grisham describes himself as a «moderate Baptist», and has performed mission service for his church, notably in Brazil. That country provides the setting for one of his novels «The Testament», which has a strong religious theme.

John Grisham Sr. - Amercian

John’s father, John Grisham Sr. worked as a construction worker and a cotton farmer

Wanda Skidmore Grisham - American - Homemaker

Wanda Skidmore Grisham was a homemaker. Although his parents lacked formal education, his mother encouraged him to read and insisted that he prepare himself for college.

Shea Grisham and Ty Grisham