Early life and education
Clancy was born on April 12, 1947, at Franklin Square Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and grew up in the Northwood neighborhood in northeast Baltimore. He was the second of three children to Thomas Clancy, who worked for the United States Postal Service, and Catherine Clancy, who worked in a store's credit department. His mother worked to send him to the private Roman Catholic secondary school taught by the Jesuit religious order (Society of Jesus), Loyola High School in Towson, Maryland, the suburban county seat of Baltimore County, just north of the city, from which he graduated in 1965. He then attended the associated Loyola College (now Loyola University Maryland) in Baltimore, graduating in 1969 with a bachelor's degree in English literature. While at Loyola University, he was president of the chess club. He joined the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps; however, he was ineligible to serve due to his myopia (nearsightedness), which required him to wear thick eyeglasses. After graduating, he worked for an insurance company in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1973, he joined the O. F. Bowen Agency, a small insurance agency based in Owings, Maryland, founded by his wife's grandfather. In 1980, he purchased the insurance agency from his wife's grandmother and wrote novels in his spare time. While working at the insurance agency, he wrote his debut novel, The Hunt for Red October (1984).