Zelda Lockhart-Diamond Doris: The True Story of the World's Most Notorious Jewel Thief

Zelda Lockhart


Zelda Lockhart holds a PhD in Expressive Arts Therapies, an MA in Literature, and a certificate in writing, directing, and editing from the New York Film Academy. Her latest books include Diamond Doris: The True Story of the World’s Most Notorious Jewel Thief by Doris Payne with Zelda Lockhart, and The Soul of the Full-Length Manuscript: Turning Life’s Wounds into the Gift of Literary Fiction, Memoir, or Poetry. Lockhart is author of novels Fifth Born, a Barnes & Noble Discovery selection and a Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Award finalist, Cold Running Creek a Black Caucus of the American Library Association Honor Fiction Awardee, and Fifth Born II: The Hundredth Turtle, 2011 Lambda Literary Award finalist. She is Director at Her Story Garden Studios: Inspiring Black Women to Self-Define, Heal and Liberate Through the Literary Arts, and Publisher at LaVenson Press: Publishing for Women & Girls of Color. Organizations across the US have recognized Dr. Lockhart’s talent as an inspiring teacher, facilitator, and public speaker.


Diamond Doris: The True Story of the World’s Most Notorious Jewel Thief, Sponsored by Griffin & Company Insurance

In the ebullient spirit of Ocean’s 8, The Heist, and Thelma & Louise, a sensational and entertaining memoir of the world’s most notorious jewel thief—a woman who defied society’s prejudices and norms to carve her own path, stealing from elite jewelers to live her dreams.

Interviewer: Bo Emerson

William A. “Bo” Emerson has been writing for newspapers since 1978, and has been with the AJC since 1983. At the AJC he covered the Centennial Olympic Park bombing during the 1996 Olympics, visited Miles Davis at his Malibu house, interviewed Jimmy Carter, and had tea with Elizabeth Taylor. He received an undergraduate degree in English from Harvard College in 1977. He is married to Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist and Pulitzer finalist Maureen Downey. They have four children and live in Decatur.

  • First Baptist Decatur Sanctuary presented by AJC
  • Sat 12:30-1:15p Baptist

Diamond Doris: The True Story of the World's Most Notorious Jewel Thief

Growing up during the Depression in the segregated coal town of Slab Fork, West Virginia, Doris Payne was told her dreams were unattainable for poor black girls like her. Surrounded by people who sought to limit her potential, Doris vowed to turn the tables after the owner of a jewelry store threw her out when a white customer arrived. Payne began shoplifting small pieces of jewelry from local stores. Over the course of six decades, her talents grew with each heist. Becoming an expert world-class jewel thief, she daringly pulled off numerous diamond robberies and her Jewish boyfriend fenced the stolen gems to Hollywood celebrities. Doris’s criminal exploits went unsolved well into the 1970s. She was arrested after stealing a diamond ring in Monte Carlo that was valued at more than half a million dollars. But even prison couldn’t contain this larger-than-life personality who cleverly used nuns as well as various ruses to help her break out. Diamond Doris is the portrait of a captivating anti-hero who refused to be defined by the prejudices and mores of a hypocritical society. BUY THIS BOOK!

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