Alumna Patricia Cornwell's Forensic Thrillers Bring Characters' Lives and Deaths Into Sharp Relief

Alumna Patricia Cornwell Game Changer

You see her name throughout bookstores and all over Best known for crime novels featuring the forensic examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta, her books have sold some 100 million copies in 36 languages in more than 120 countries. She’s authored 29 New York Times bestsellers.

Patricia Cornwell graduated from Davidson College in 1979, started her career with the Charlotte Observer and then the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond, Virginia—where her forensic thrillers’ leading character would earn her paycheck, too.

It was during this post that Cornwell wrote her first novel, Postmortem, which won the Edgar, Creasey, Anthony and Macavity awards as well as the French Prix du Roman d’Aventure prize. It was the first book ever to claim all these distinctions in a single year.

Read the full story.

I didn't invent forensic science and medicine. I just was one of the first people to recognize how interesting it is and make it accessible.

Patricia Cornwell '79, Author


  • June 27, 2019


  • English
  • College Relations
  • News Headlines