This Day in History (March 23)

Mar 23, 1999: Thomas Harris delivers Hannibal manuscript

History.com

Bestselling author Thomas Harris delivers his 600-page manuscript for his new novel, Hannibal, to Delacorte press. He had promised the book more than 10 years earlier as part of a two-book contract that paid him a $5.2 million advance. The book was the third novel featuring serial killer and cannibal Hannibal Lecter, who first appeared in Harris’ 1981 book Red Dragon as a minor character. He played a larger role in The Silence of the Lambs (1988), which sold some 10 million copies and was made into an Academy Award-winning movie in 1991.

Hannibal appeared in bookstores less than three months after Harris delivered the manuscript and quickly topped the bestseller charts, despite-or perhaps because of-an intensely gruesome plot. It too was made into a film, directed by Ridley Scott, which was released in 2001.

Harris was born in 1940 in Richmond, Mississippi, the son of a biology teacher and an electrical engineer. In 1968, he took a job with the Associated Press in New York. While working for the news agency, Harris and two friends had an idea for a novel about hijackers seizing the Goodyear blimp during the Super Bowl. Harris turned the idea into the bestselling Black Sunday (1975).

Like his antihero, Hannibal Lecter, Harris is a gourmet chef with a taste for fine wines. He divides his time among Sag Harbour, Miami, and Paris.

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