Mary Theresa Eleanor Higgins Clark Conheeney, professionally known as Mary Higgins Clark, was born on Christmas Eve 1927 as the second child of Irish immigrant Luke Higgins and his American-born wife Nora. As a child, Higgins Clark was fascinated by writing and composed her first poem at age seven.

Following her graduation from Saint Francis Xavier Grammar School, Higgins Clark received a scholarship to attend Villa Maria Academy where she was encouraged to explore and develop her love of writing. After completing her schooling at the Wood Secretarial School, she worked various jobs including secretary stewardess for Pan-American Airlines and copy editor before leaving her job to begin a family. Though she began writing at an early age, it wasn’t until 1964 when her husband passed that she began writing radio scripts. First published at age 28, many years passed before her agent urged Higgins Clark to try her hand at writing novels.

Her first novel, a fictionalized tale about George Washington, did not fare well and Higgins Clark decided to pursue her passion: mystery and suspense novels. Each of her subsequent 51 books have been bestsellers in the United States and various European countries. As of 2015, all of her novels still remain in print, with her debut suspense novel in its 75th printing. Find out more about Mary Higgins Clark in this month’s Legacy video installment!

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