James Patterson Biography: Life, Career, Success & Wealth

Estimated read time 4 min read
Susan Solie-Patterson, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

James Patterson is an accomplished American author and philanthropist, known for his prolific career in writing suspense, mystery, and thriller novels. Born on March 22, 1947, in Newburgh, New York, Patterson spent his early life in a small town in upstate New York. He attended Manhattan College where he earned a degree in English and later received an MBA from Vanderbilt University.

Patterson began his career in advertising and worked for several high-profile companies, including J. Walter Thompson and Leo Burnett. During this time, he continued to write in his spare time, and in 1976, he published his first novel, “The Thomas Berryman Number,” which won the Edgar Award for Best First Mystery Novel.

Patterson’s success as a novelist continued to grow throughout the 1990s and 2000s. He became best known for his series of novels featuring the character Alex Cross, a detective and psychologist. Other popular series he has created include the Women’s Murder Club, the Maximum Ride series, and the Michael Bennett series.

In addition to his fiction writing, Patterson is also a committed philanthropist. He has donated millions of dollars to support literacy and reading programs, particularly for children. In 2015, he founded the James Patterson Pledge, which aims to encourage children’s literacy by providing funds to independent bookstores, school libraries, and other organizations that promote reading.

Patterson’s success as an author has made him incredibly wealthy. According to Forbes, he earned an estimated $86 million in 2021 alone, making him one of the highest-earning authors in the world. His net worth is estimated to be around $700 million, with a significant portion of his wealth coming from book sales and movie and TV adaptations of his work.

Despite his wealth, Patterson remains committed to using his success to support causes he cares about. He continues to be a vocal advocate for literacy and reading, and he has used his philanthropic efforts to support education and literacy programs around the world. Patterson’s success as an author and his dedication to philanthropy have made him a respected figure in the literary world and beyond.

Here’s a timeline of key events in the life of James Patterson:

  • 1947: James Patterson is born on March 22 in Newburgh, New York.
  • 1969: Patterson graduates from Manhattan College with a degree in English.
  • 1971: Patterson earns an MBA from Vanderbilt University and begins a career in advertising.
  • 1976: Patterson publishes his first novel, “The Thomas Berryman Number,” which wins the Edgar Award for Best First Mystery Novel.
  • 1986: Patterson quits his job in advertising to focus on writing full-time.
  • 1993: Patterson publishes the first novel in the Alex Cross series, “Along Came a Spider,” which becomes a bestseller and launches a successful franchise.
  • 2001: Patterson becomes the first author to sell 1 million e-books.
  • 2005: Patterson releases the first book in the Women’s Murder Club series, which also becomes a bestselling franchise.
  • 2010: Patterson donates $1 million to independent bookstores across the United States to promote reading and literacy.
  • 2015: Patterson launches the James Patterson Pledge, a program that supports independent bookstores, school libraries, and other organizations that promote reading.
  • 2019: Patterson releases the book “The Institute,” which becomes a #1 New York Times bestseller.
  • 2021: Forbes estimates that Patterson earns $86 million in a year, making him one of the highest-earning authors in the world.

5 Interesting Facts about James Patterson:

  1. He originally wanted to be a professional football player, but an injury derailed his dreams and led him to pursue writing instead.
  2. He wrote his first novel while still working full-time in advertising and would wake up at 5am every day to write before going to work.
  3. He has written books under several different pen names, including Jack Higgins and Brian Coffey.
  4. He is a big fan of jazz music and has even written a book about it, called “The Jazz Flyer.”
  5. He owns a rare bookseller called Bookman’s Alley in Evanston, Illinois, which he purchased in 2014 and now runs with his wife.

5 Quotes from James Patterson:

  1. “I’m always pretending that I’m sitting across from somebody. I’m telling them a story, and I don’t want them to get up until it’s finished.”
  2. “If you’re working 40 hours a week and you’re writing a book, you’re working 80 hours a week.”
  3. “The thing about writing is that you never stop learning and growing, and I’m still learning and growing every day.”
  4. “I love to read, and I love to write, and that’s pretty much all I do.”
  5. “If you want to be a writer, you have to be a reader first.”

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