Frank Harris was an Irish-American editor, novelist, short story writer, journalist and publisher, who was friendly with many well-known figures of his day.
Born in Ireland, he emigrated to the United States early in life, working in a variety of unskilled jobs before attending the University of Kansas to read (study) law. After graduation, he quickly tired of his legal career and returned to Europe in 1882. He traveled in continental Europe before settling in London to pursue a career in journalism. In 1921, in his sixties, he became a US citizen. Though he attracted much attention during his life for his irascible, aggressive personality, editorship of famous periodicals, and friendship with the talented and famous, he is remembered mainly for his multiple-volume memoir My Life and Loves, which was banned in countries around the world for its sexual explicitness.
Harris was born James Thomas Harris in 1855, in Galway, Ireland, to Welsh parents. His father, Thomas Vernon Harris, was a naval officer from Fishguard, Pembrokeshire, Wales. While living with his older brother he was, for a year or more, a pupil at The Royal School, Armagh. At the age of 12 he was sent to Wales to continue his education as a boarder at the Ruabon Grammar School in Denbighshire, a time he was to remember later in My Life and Loves. Harris was unhappy at the school and ran away within a year.
Harris ran away to the United States in late 1869, arriving in New York City virtually penniless. The 14-year-old took a series of odd jobs to support himself, working first as a boot black, a porter, a general laborer, and a construction worker on the erection of the Brooklyn Bridge. Harris would later turn these early occupational experiences into art, incorporating tales from them into his book The Bomb.
From New York Harris moved to the American Midwest, settling in the country's second largest city, Chicago, where he took a job as a hotel clerk and eventually a manager. Owing to Chicago's central place in the meat packing industry, Harris made the acquaintance of various cattlemen, who inspired him to leave the big city to take up work as a cowboy. Harris eventually grew tired of life in the cattle industry and enrolled at the University of Kansas, where he studied law and earned a degree, gaining admission to the Kansas state bar association.
Married three times, Harris died in Nice aged 75 on 26 August 1931, of a heart attack. He was subsequently buried at Cimetière Sainte-Marguerite, adjacent to the Cimetière Caucade, in the same city.
Just after his death a biography written by Hugh Kingsmill (pseudonym of Hugh Kingsmill Lunn) was published.
Books by Frank Harris
Consumers of biography are familiar with the division between memoirs of the living or recently dead written by those who "knew" the subject more or less intimately, and the more objective or scholarly accounts produced by later generations. In the...