Frank Harris (February 14, 1856 – August 27, 1931) was a naturalised American author of British origin, editor, journalist and publisher who was friendly with many well-known figures of his day. 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.
Emigrating to the US in late 1869, he studied at the University of Kansas. In 1878 he married Florence Ruth Adams, who died the following year. Returning to England in 1882, Harris first came to general notice as the editor of a series of London papers including the Evening News, the Fortnightly Review and the Saturday Review, the last-named being the high point of his journalistic career, with H. G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw as regular contributors.
Harris returned to New York during World War I. From 1916 to 1922 he edited the U.S. edition of Pearson's Magazine. Pearson's has been described as "Probably second in fame to The Strand Magazine, which it imitated ... a heavily romantic publication".
Harris became an American citizen in April, 1921. In 1922 he traveled to Berlin to publish his best-known work, his autobiography My Life and Loves (published in four volumes, 1922-1927). It is notorious for its graphic descriptions of Harris's purported sexual encounters and for its exaggeration of the scope of his adventures and his role in history. A fifth volume, supposedly taken from his notes but of doubtful provenance, was published in 1954, long after his death.
A 1923 attempt to sell the book in Paris caused it to be seized by French authorities.
The British occultist, mystic, and sexual revolutionary Aleister Crowley lived with him in 1924; according to one source, they both shared similar "money troubles" and were "equal hypochondriacs".
Harris also wrote short stories and novels, two books on Shakespeare, a series of biographical sketches in five volumes under the title Contemporary Portraits and biographies of his friends Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw. His attempts at playwriting were less successful: only Mr. and Mrs. Daventry (1900) (which was based on an idea by Oscar Wilde) was produced on the stage.
The Frank Harris Publishing Company was founded in New York in the mid-to-late 1920s to promote and distribute his works in America. Esar Levine, whose Harris collection is housed at Princeton University, was one of his employees and disciples. Married three times, Harris died in France on August 27th 1931, of a heart attack.
He is seen as a minor character in The Trials of Oscar Wilde (1960) played by Paul Rogers.
On television, Harris was played by Leonard Rossiter in a 1978 BBC Play of the Week: Fearless Frank, or, Tidbits From The Life Of An Adventurer.
Harris was also featured in an episode of The Edwardians (1972) played by John Bennett.