Gary Dexter

Surprising literary ventures | 9 September 2009

Miranda the Panda is on the Veranda (1958) by Doris Sanders and Patricia Highsmith

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Miranda the Panda is on the Veranda

Doris Sanders and Patricia Highsmith

Patricia Highsmith, as readers will know, was the author of the upmarket thrillers Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr Ripley, among others. She was also a keen artist, and illustrated (rather than wrote) the rare book Miranda the Panda is on the Veranda, to text supplied by her friend Doris Sanders. Its pages, somewhat Seussian in tone, include statements such as: ‘Mabel Grable, a sable, reads a fable at the table in the stable near the gable with a cable’; ‘A monk and a skunk and some junk on an elephant’s trunk’; and ‘A veil on a snail.’ The book was published by Coward-McCann, who also handled her adult fiction. Until her mid-twenties Highsmith thought of herself as an artist, rather than as a writer, and, after she had made the decision in favour of writing, continued to turn her hand (a very large hand, as friends pointed out) to painting, drawing, wood-carving and carpentry. After her death her considerable body of drawings was collected in the 1995 book, Patricia Highsmith Zeichnungen, which includes a sketch of ‘Marcel Proust Examining Own Bathwater.’