Cornwell, Patricia

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Also known as Patricia Daniels
American novelist

Cornwell was born Patricia Daniels to a married couple. When she was five or seven (sources differ) her father abandoned the family for another woman. Her mother moved with the three children from Florida to North Carolina to make a fresh start but due to mental illness was unable to look after them. She abandoned them on the doorstep of Dr. Billy Graham, the evangelist, who lived nearby, when Patricia was nine. Although they did not foster the children, they found them a foster home, and Mrs. Graham was an important influence on her for the rest of her childhood. Unfortunately the family was abusive, which has left Cornwell with a legacy of anger, a sense of outrage, and a need to be in total control of her life.

She has suffered from alcoholism, rape, eating disorders and a failed marriage. It has also contributed to making her one of the best-selling and most highly regarded crime writers of the present day, the creator of the chief medical examiner, Dr. Kay Scarpetta, based partly on her own experiences for six years on the staff of the Virginia chief medical examiner.

She is bisexual.


Laurence, Charles. "A Control Freak? Of Course I Am [interview]." Available at: (originally published in the London Telegraph).
Rabago, Shellie. "Patricia Cornwell." [Includes portraits]. Available at:
"Patricia Cornwell." Available at:


20th Century
21st Century
Sexuality: Gay Men, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transsexuals
Estrangement from Adoptive or Foster Family
Addiction or Abuse (drugs, Alcohol or Gambling)
Multiple or Unspecified
School-age Years, Adolescence
Parental Illness (Mental or Physical), Addiction
Child Abandoned or Rejected by Birth Parent(s)
Others ("Strangers")
Parent(s) Died, Disappeared or Became Incapacitated
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