A life of trials, tragedy, and triumph
Mary Higgins Clark was born, December 24, 1929, and raised in the Bronx, New York. She exhibited a strong writing talent at an early age. She was writing poetry by the age of 7.
Although the family started out well off, they experienced hard times during the depression, following the death of her father.
Upon graduation from Saint Francis Xavier Grammar School, she received a scholarship from Villa Maria Academy. It was here that Miss Clark was encouraged to continue her writing.
As a teenager, Clark sought publication in the magazine “True Confessions” but received the dreaded “rejection notice”.
Meanwhile, in spite of taking odd jobs to help her struggling, single mom, the family lost their home. Clark also lost one of her beloved brothers, Joseph when he contracted Spinal Meningitis in 1944.
After high school, Clark worked as a secretary for Remington-Rand’s creative department. She also studied advertising and promotion part-time thus earning a spot writing ad copy for Remington-Rand. She even did some modeling work for their catalog.
After her stint with Remington, Clark became a Pan-American flight attendant, flying international routes to exotic locales such as Asia, Africa, and Europe. She married Warren Clark on December 26.1949, thus ending her flight career.
Ever the writer, Clark took up writing courses at New York University. After 6 years of dreaded “rejection notices”, Extension Magazine published her short story entitled “stowaway”.
By the 1960’s due to her husband’s poor health, Clark was forced to seek employment. She accepted a job as a radio scriptwriter. Tragically, both her husband and mother-in-law died the same day she acquired this position.
Left alone with 5 children to raise and the short story market collapsing, Clark tries her hand at novel writing in the late 1960’s.
It took 3 years to complete her first work, “Aspire to the Heavens”, which is a fictional account of U.S. President, George Washington, and his wife, Martha. (1968) But tragedy would strike again in her personal life. Her mother died just 4 months after publication of her book.
Always a believer in the value of a good education, Clark enrolled in Fordham University in 1971. She earned a BA degree in philosophy, and encouraged her children to follow her example.
Later, she quit her job to form her own company creating and marketing radio scripts. She was forced to pawn her engagement ring to obtain the start-up money.
Following another personal tragedy (the death of her last remaining brother Johnny), Clark wrote and successfully published her second novel “Where are the children”. This work was published in 1975.
All told, Miss Clark has written over 40 books. All of them have become best-sellers in the U.S. and Europe. Her first book “Aspire to the Heavens” was re-issued in 2000.
As of this writing, 5 of her books have been converted to the movie screen. Twenty of her works have been adapted for television. And, she has collaborated many times with her daughter, Carol Higgins Clark, herself an award winning novelist.
Mary Higgins Clark has been awarded 18 honorary degrees, plus the prestigious Horatio Alger Award in 1997.
She credits her strong religious faith in keeping her strong during the challenges of her life.