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Joan Harrison


Joan Mary Harrison was an English film producer and screenwriter.

Born in Guildford, Surrey, Harrison studied at St Hugh's College, Oxford, and also at the Sorbonne.

In 1933 she responded to a newspaper advertisement placed by director Alfred Hitchcock who was seeking a "young lady, highest educational qualifications, must be able to speak, read and write French and German fluently". Initially she worked as his secretary and assistant, answering correspondence and taking script notes, before eventually joining in with writing screenplays, with her first screen credit being Jamaica Inn (1939).

Harrison became a close friend of the Hitchcock family and frequently accompanied them on their holidays during the 1930s.

When the Hitchcocks moved to America in March 1939 and signed to Selznick International, the director insisted that his contract include a weekly salary of $150-$200 for Harrison.[1]

Harrison continued to assist with the pre-production of Hitchcock's films and received further writing credits for Rebecca (1940), Foreign Correspondent (1940), Suspicion (1941) and Saboteur.

By 1943, she had begun working independently, writing the screenplay for Dark Waters (1944) with Marian B. Cockrell, and working as one of the few female producers in Hollywood.

During the 1950s, Harrison had moved into television production, which made her an ideal choice to produce the Alfred Hitchcock Presents series that began airing in October 1955. By 1958, Norman Lloyd had been hired as a co-producer on the series.

Harrison married author Eric Ambler in 1958 and in the early 1970s the couple moved back to England to retire.

She died in 1994, aged 87.


With Hitchcock...

Alfred Hitchcock Presents...

The Alfred Hitchcock Hour...


See Also...

Image Gallery

Images from the Hitchcock Gallery (click to view larger versions or search for all relevant images)...


  • born 26/Jun/1907[2]
  • baptised 22/Jul/1907 at St. Nicolas, Guildford
  • daughter of newspaper company director Walter Harrison (b. ~1872)[3] and Amelia McWhir Mure Harrison (b. 1871) née Asher[4], who married 1900[5]
  • sister of Muriel Mary Harrison (b. 1902)[6] and Jack Forsythe Harrison (b. 1904)[7]
  • married 11/Oct/1958 to Eric Clifford Ambler in San Francisco, California, USA
  • died 14/Aug/1994 aged 87[8]

Research Documents


1911 Census

Research Notes

  • During the 1930s, her Electoral Registry entry was for 14 Farnham Road, Guildford, Surrey.
  • 1930 Passenger Lists — travelled from London to Singapore aboard the Moldavia, departing April 16th[9]
  • 1937 Passenger Lists — travelled from New York to Southampton aboard the Georgic, arriving July 12th[10]
  • 1937 Passenger Lists — travelled from Southampton to New York aboard the Queen Mary, departing August 18th[11]
  • 1939 Passenger Lists — travelled from Southampton to New York aboard the Queen Mary, departing March 4th[12]


Notes & References

  1. Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light (2003) by Patrick McGilligan, chapter 7
  2. Birth registered Q4 1907 Guildford.
  3. Son of accountant Charles Harrison. Died 16/Nov/1942 leaving effects to the value of £5,189 to his widow.
  4. Born 1871 [reg. Q2 1871 Guildford]. Also known as "Nellie". Daughter of newspaper proprietor Alexander Forsythe Asher. Died 1971 [reg. Q1 1971 Hillingdon].
  5. Marriage registered Q3 1900 Guildford.
  6. Birth registered Q3 1902 Guildford. Baptised 10/Sep/1902 at St. Nicolas, Guildford. Died unmarried 09/Jul/1938 leaving effects to the value of £1,430 (probate was granted to her father Walter).
  7. Birth registered Q4 1904 Guildford. Died 12/Jun/1937 leaving effects to the value of £1,035 (probate was granted to his father Walter)
  8. Death registered Q3 1994 Westminster.
  9. No occupation was given and it's uncertain if she travelled with any companions as no other "Harrison"s are listed.
  10. She accompanied the Hitchcock family.
  11. She accompanied the Hitchcock family and was misnamed "Joan Hitchcock" on the passenger list.
  12. She accompanied the Hitchcock family and her occupation was given as "writer".