Joan Schenkar
Acclaimed American playwright and author

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.


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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

Praise for The Talented Miss Highsmith

"A comprehensive, nuanced evaluation of Highsmith Country."
—Kirkus Reviews

"Schenkar’s fascinating biography portrays Highsmith as driven by obsessions, especially her love-hate relationship with her mother, and a yin-yang ambivalence that became a central main theme in her writings ... The catalyst for Schenkar’s exhaustive, compelling work, which boasts copious end notes, maps, charts, diagrams, bibliography, and chronology, was the recent unearthing of 8,000 pages of Highsmith’s secret journals. The result is an essential, scholarly, lesbian, and literary biography."

"[A] biography that captures the writer in all her sullen, sinister, ambivalent glory. Grade: A"
—Entertainment Weekly