An American novelist with a fortune of $400 million, John Grisham is a prolific figure in the literary world. Every year, Grisham makes between $50 and $80 million in book/movie royalties and advances from his books and films.
To date, Grisham has sold more than 300 million copies of his novels to readers throughout the world. His legal thrillers have earned him a reputation. He published his first novel, “A Time to Kill,” in 1989 and has since penned 28 other number-one blockbusters, selling more than 300 million copies worldwide. For six years, Grisham was a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives, where he served as a Democratic activist and politician.
Early Life and Career Beginnings
Born in Jonesboro, Ark., in 1955, John Ray Grisham Jr. is the second of five children. While Wanda was a housewife, Wanda’s husband John worked as a construction worker. At the age of four, Grisham and his family relocated to Southaven, Mississippi, where he attended school.
He wanted to be a baseball player as a youngster, but he also became a fervent Christian, and he regarded his faith as the most significant event in his life after that. Grisham worked as a plant waterer, a plumber, and a sales clerk when he was a teenager.
Because his mother encouraged him to go to college, Grisham first attended Northwest Mississippi Community College and then Delta State University in Cleveland before transferring to Mississippi State University and earning a BS in accounting.
To become a tax lawyer, he entered the University of Mississippi School of Law, where he got his JD in 1981; he then switched to civil litigation.
Grisham served in the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1984 to 1990 as a Democrat, representing the 7th District. A little girl’s account of maltreatment in court inspired him to write his first novel, which he wrote while waiting in court.
To write “A Time to Kill,” Grisham spent three years pondering the case. The book was ultimately published in 1989 by Wynwood Press, a relatively obscure publisher, after being rejected by 28 other publishers.
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“The Firm” and Major Fame
“The Firm,” Grisham’s second book, was his first big hit. Topping the New York Times bestseller list for 47 weeks, the novel was the year’s ninth best-seller. After this triumph, Grisham retired from the practice of law, returning temporarily in 1996 for a case that resulted in the largest verdict of his career.
In 1992 and 1993, Grisham had the second-best-selling book of the year, and from 1994 to 2000, he had the best-selling book of the year every year. There are a few notable titles from this period, such as “The Rainmaker,” “The Client,” and “The Runaway Jury.”
Grisham has had nine of his books made into films as of 2021. “The Firm,” starring Tom Cruise and Holly Hunter in 1993, was the first and most profitable film at the box office, grossing $270 million.
The film adaptation of “The Pelican Brief,” starring Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington, made $195 million later that year. Other cinematic adaptations of Grisham’s book include “The Client,” starring Susan Sarandon, and “A Painted House,” starring Scott Glenn and Logan Lerman, which premiered in 2003.
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After “A Painted House” in 2001, Grisham shifted his concentration away from the law and toward the rural American South. He did, however, continue to write legal thrillers, putting out at least once a year at this point. One of these books, “The Summons,” became the top-selling book of 2002, bringing the author back to prominence.
“The Last Juror” (2004) and “The Broker” (2005) were also big sellers during this time period. Additional works include Bleachers, “Playing for Pizza,” “Calico Joe,” and the original script for Mickey, a baseball film based on Grisham’s novel.
Also, he has created middle-grade legal thrillers that follow the adventures of thirteen-year-old Theodore Boone, an aspiring lawyer. “The Litigators,” “The Racketeer,” “Rogue Lawyer,” and “Camino Island” were among the author’s best-selling books of the decade.
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Shea and Ty are Grisham’s children from his 1981 marriage to Renee Jones. As a lifetime baseball fan, Grisham has erected a $3.8 million child baseball complex in Covesville, Virginia. For the Virginia Cavaliers, he donated $1.2 million, which went toward the reconstruction of Davenport Field at UVA.
The Innocence Project, a non-profit dedicated to clearing the names of those wrongfully imprisoned, also counts Grisham among its board members. On “Dateline NBC,” “Bill Moyers Journal,” and in The New York Times, Grisham has demonstrated his advocacy.
Grisham lives with his family in a Victorian near Oxford, Mississippi, as well as in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Destin, Florida, as well as a Chapel Hill, North Carolina, apartment.
Accolades and Honors
The American Academy of Achievement’s Golden Plate Award, the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award, the Galaxy British Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Library of Congress Creative Achievement Award for Fiction are just a few of the honors Grisham has earned throughout the years. In addition, only J.K. Rowling and Tom Clancy have sold more than two million copies of a first edition book than Grisham.
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