Patricia developed a passion for tennis when she was in high school, and so started on a sterling high school career. Cornwell's high school didn't have a girls' tennis team, so she played on the boys' squad, against other boys. But she never lost a match.
While in high school, Cornwell also participated in many other activities. She was the secretary-treasurer of her school's chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a member of the Student Council, Inter-nation Simulation Team; Shawano Court, and was a member of the Beta Club.
Cornwell began attending King College in Bristol, Tennessee and continued to entertain plans of becoming a professional tennis player. During her freshman year Cornwell was the only female on the squad, and played on the men's team. Cornwell dropped out of competitive play when she was 19. Cornwell never took writing seriously until she gave up tennis.
During the summer of 1976, Cornwell had the biggest chance meeting of her life. While giving a tennis lesson in Montreat, N.C., she met Ed White, admissions director of highly selective Davidson College in North Carolina. White had just learned that morning that Davidson had an opening among incoming transfers, and after talking to Cornwell, invited her to apply. She was accepted in less than a month, and Cornwell enrolled that fall.
Patricia Daniels graduated from Davidson College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Literature in 1979. She and Charles Cornwell were married on June 14, 1980. He was 41, while she was 24. Unfortunately, the two of them separated in 1989 and were divorced in 1990.
Finally, in 1990, six years after Cornwell first started writing, "Postmortem" was bought and published by Scribner's. Cornwell was paid a mere $6,000 for the book, but she became the first American female author to win the Edgar, Creasey, Anthony, Macavity, and the French Prix du Roman d'Adventurei in a single year. Later Cornwell went on to write six Kay Scarpetta books for Scribner's.
Her first Scarpetta novel for Putnam, "Cause of Death," was #1 for four consecutive weeks among the New York Times Best Sellers. Her latest Scarpetta novel, "Point of Origin" was be released on July 6, 1998. In February, 1998, Cornwell's seventh and eighth Scarpetta novels were translated into foreign languages. Cause of Death was translated in Italian while Unnatural Exposure was tranlsated into French.
Cornwell now lives in Richmond, Va., with her Boston Terrier, Chopper.