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Joan Schenkar

Acclaimed American playwright and author

Travels From

New York



JOAN SCHENKAR is an American playwright and author. She has won over forty grants, fellowships, and awards for her writing. Joan speaks about the fascinating Patricia Highsmith, whose dazzling, dangerous novels entered the American consciousness in such classic films as Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley. The talk includes special dramatic presentations by the multi-award-winning American actress Kathleen Chalfant and never-before seen photographs.


Joan is the author of the definitive and highly acclaimed literary biography of Patricia Highsmith, The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith (St Martin’s Press, 2009, Picador, 2011). The book won the Lambda Literary Award, and the same Edgar Allan Poe award won by Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley. It was noted on many Top Ten lists, and selected as one of the New York Times 100 Notable Books for 2010.  Joan is also the author of Truly Wilde: the unsettling story of Dolly Wilde, a Lambda-finalist biography of Oscar Wilde’s niece, Dorothy.  A prolific writer, over five hundred productions of her work have made it to the stage, radio, and video around the world. A collection of her plays, Signs of Life: Six Comedies of Menace, became a Wesleyan University Press best-seller.


Joan has an ABD in English and American literature and aesthetics. She has been playwright-in-residence for many universities and theatre companies, and was the founder and artistic director of Force Majeure Productions in New York. She lives in Paris and Greenwich Village.


Kathleen Chalfant is a Tony Award-nominated, Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics, and Obie Award-winning actress. She has starred in notable plays such as Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America: Millennium Approaches,” Margaret Edson’s “Wit,” and Alan Bennett’s “Talking Heads.” Her many credits for film, television and radio include Duplicity and The Last New Yorker, every iteration of Law and Order, as well as The Guardian, Book of Daniel, and The Laramie Project. She is the Distinguished Artist-in-Residence at The New School for Drama for 2011-2012.
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Trade Paperback
The Talented Miss Highsmith
The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith

A 2010  New York Times Notable BookA 2010 Lambda Literary Award Winner A 2009 Edgar Award Nominee A 2009 Agatha Award Nominee A Publishers Weekly Pick of...


The Talented Miss Highsmith: Joan Schenkar presents an author’s talk in concert with a dramatic presentation by Kathleen Chalfant that captures the brilliant essence of Patricia Highsmith



  • Joan Schenkar – Nonfiction Forum


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