Millions around the world have enjoyed the best selling suspense novels of Mary Higgins Clark. But her own story of success is as remarkable as the masterful tales she writes.
Of Irish descent, Mary Higgins Clark was born and raised in New York City. She considers her Irish heritage an important influence on her writing, noting that the Irish are great storytellers by nature. After graduating from high school, she enrolled in secretarial training, so that she could get a job to help her widowed mother and two brothers with the family finances. After working for three years for an advertising agency, she became a flight hostess for Pan American World Airways and served on international flights to Europe, Africa and Asia.
A year later, she married Warren Clark and began writing short stories. Six years, and forty rejection slips later, her first story was published in Extension Magazine in 1956. Left a young widow with five children by the death of her husband in 1964, she went to work writing radio scripts and, in addition, decided to try her hand at writing books.
Her self-imposed schedule saw her diligently working each morning at 5 AM before getting her children ready for school. Her first book, Aspire to the Heavens, was a biographical novel about the life of George Washington. "It was remaindered as it came off the press," she says of that first effort. Next, she began to write a suspense novel. The result was Where Are the Children?, which became a bestseller and marked a turning point in her life and career.
In 1974, after focusing on the education of her children, Mary Higgins Clark decided to catch up on her own and enrolled in Fordham University at Lincoln Center. In 1979 she graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in philosophy. In 1998, she received an honorary doctorate from Fordham University.
Mary Higgins Clark is a past Trustee of Fordham University, a Trustee of St. Peter's College, a member of the Board of the Catholic Communal Board of the Archdiocese of Newark and a member of the Board of the Catholic Communal Board of the Archdiocese of New York, a Dame of the Order of St. Gregory, a Dame of Malta, and Lady Commander of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher. She is actively involved in Literacy Partners. She has also been recognized with numerous awards, including 16 honorary doctorates. She has been named "The Woman of Achievement" by the Federation of Women's Clubs in New Jersey, and "Irish Woman of the Year" by the Irish-American Heritage and Cultural Week Committee of the New York City Board of Education. Other awards include the Gold Medal of Honor from the Irish-American Historical Society, the Spirit of Achievement Award from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, and the National Arts Club's first Gold Medal in Education Award. Most recently, she was honored as a "Grand Master" by the Mystery Writers of America at the 2000 Edgar Allen Poe Awards.
Siena College today recognizes Mary Higgins Clark with an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters.