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Patricia Cornwell Says She Was Outed As Gay In The 1990s By A Vanity Fair Article’


The American author discusses tracking down Jack the Ripper, her greatest reporting story, and putting her private life in the public eye.

Patricia Cornwell is a former journalist who now writes crime novels. She was born in Florida, relocated to North Carolina, and started working for the Charlotte Observer as a crime correspondent. Cornwell left the field to take a job at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond, Virginia, where she pursued crime writing alongside her day job. She rose to prominence in journalism for an investigative series on prostitution. Renowned for her Kay Scarpetta series, she has won numerous accolades and is now well-known worldwide.

“When I was in that foster care situation, which was so dreadful I was literally held hostage there, my pipedream would have been for someone like Scarpetta to have shown up at the door,” she says. “Then I would have looked at that [foster] lady and said: “You are so f—-d right now”. I created a character who would have rescued me as a child, who would have saved me. And in a way,” adds Cornwell, “she did.”

Cornwell’s latest book, Livid, is the 26th novel in the Kay Scarpetta series and a certain bestseller to add to her worldwide sales to date of 120 million. By anyone’s estimation, her life, particularly given its bleak beginnings, has been a resounding success (her net worth is estimated at around £22 million).

Scarpetta is her most famous creation and, as she implies today, in many ways her salvation too. A medical examiner with an unerring compulsion to deliver justice for the many murder victims who come her way, Scarpetta might never have come about, Cornwell admits, had it not been for the trials of her childhood.

When she first made her appearance in Cornwell’s 1990 novel, Postmortem, she essentially kick-started the world’s fascination with forensic pathology. But as shows such as CSI, Silent Witness and Waking the Dead flooded the TV schedules, Scarpetta, despite many aborted attempts, was never adapted for the screen and remained maddeningly rooted within the pages of Cornwell’s novels.

However, despite numerous failed attempts, Scarpetta was never adapted for the screen and remained frustratingly entrenched in the pages of Cornwell’s novels, even as television schedules were overtaken by series like CSI, Waking the Dead, and Silent Witness.

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