Frank Harris

Frank Harris (14 February 1855 – 26 August 1931) 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 law. However, he quickly tired of his subsequent legal career and returned to Europe in 1882. He travelled around continental Europe before settling in London to pursue a career in journalism. In 1921, by now in his sixties, he became a US citizen. Though he attracted much attention during his life for his irascible, aggressive personality 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. While living with his older brother he was a pupil at an Armagh school before being sent to north Wales at the age of 12 where he would continue his education as a boarder at the Ruabon Grammar School, a time he was to remember later in My Life and Loves. Harris was unhappy at the school and ran away within a year.

He ran away to the United States in late 1869, arriving in New York City virtually penniless. As a 13-year-old he took a series of odd jobs to support himself, working as a shoeshine boy, a porter and a general labourer. He spent time as a construction worker on the Brooklyn Bridge and he would later turn these hard times into art, incorporating tales from them into his book The Bomb.