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Grace Metalious
Born Marie Grace DeRepentigny
September 8, 1924(1924-09-08)
Manchester, New Hampshire
Died February 25, 1964 (aged 39)
Boston, Massachusetts
Occupation Author
Nationality American
Notable work(s) Peyton Place
Partner(s) George Metalious

Grace Metalious (September 8, 1924 – February 25, 1964) was an American author, best known for her controversial novel Peyton Place.

Contents

Early life

She was born into poverty and a broken home as Marie Grace de Repentigny in the mill town of Manchester, New Hampshire, writing from an early age. After graduating from Manchester Central High School, she married George Metalious in 1943, became a housewife and mother, lived in near squalor — and continued to write.

Peyton Place

At the age of 30, she began work in the fall of 1954 on a manuscript with the working title The Tree and the Blossom. By the spring of 1955, she had finished a first draft. However, she and her husband regarded The Tree and the Blossom as an unwieldy title and decided to give the town a name which could be the book's title. They first considered Potter Place (the name of a real community near Andover, New Hampshire). Realizing their town should have a fictional name, they looked through an atlas and found Payton (the name of a real town in Texas). They combined this with Place and changed the "a" to an "e". Thus, Peyton Place was born, prompting her comment, "Wonderful—that's it, George. Peyton Place. Peyton Place, New Hampshire. Peyton Place, New England. Peyton Place, USA. Truly a composite of all small towns where ugliness rears its head, and where the people try to hide all the skeletons in their closets."[1]

She found an agent, M. Jacques Chambrun, who submitted the manuscript to three major publishers before it was accepted at the end of summer 1955 by the small firm of Julian Messner, Inc., owned and operated by Kathryn Messner. In the summer of 1956, the Metalious family moved into a new hilltop house and a publicity campaign was launched for the book, published September 24, 1956. Reviled by the clergy and dismissed by most critics, it nevertheless remained on The New York Times bestseller list for more than a year and became an international phenomenon.

The dark secrets of a small New England town made juicy reading for millions worldwide. Peyton Place appears to have been a combination of three New Hampshire towns: Gilmanton, the village where she lived (and which resented the notoriety), Laconia, the only nearby town of comparable size to Peyton Place and site of Metalious' favorite bar, and Alton, the town where a few years previously a daughter had murdered her incestuous abusive father. Hollywood lost no time in cashing in on the book's success — a year after its publication, Peyton Place was a major box office hit. A prime time television series that aired on ABC-TV from 1964 through 1969 was a ratings success as well.

Metalious — the "Pandora in bluejeans"[2] — was said by some to be a dreadful writer and a purveyor of filth, but her most famous book changed the publishing industry forever. With regard to her success, she said, "If I'm a lousy writer, then an awful lot of people have lousy taste,"[3] and as to the frankness of her work, she stated, "Even Tom Sawyer had a girlfriend, and to talk about adults without talking about their sex drives is like talking about a window without glass."[4]

Later works

Her other novels, all of which sold well but never achieved the same success as her first, were Return to Peyton Place (1959), The Tight White Collar (1961) and No Adam in Eden (1963).

Death

Metalious died of alcoholism on February 25, 1964. "If I had to do it over again," she once remarked, "it would be easier to be poor. Before I was successful, I was as happy as anyone gets."[5] She is buried in Smith Meeting House Cemetery in Gilmanton, New Hampshire.

Legacy

In 2006, Sandra Bullock was slated to star in and co-produce a biopic of Metalious' life.[6]

In 2007, the city of Manchester, the Manchester Historic Association, and the University of New Hampshire at Manchester honored Metalious with an in-depth examination of her life and most famous book. The celebration, which included lectures, readings of her work, and showings of the movie, marked the area's first public acknowledgment of its native daughter.[7]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Metalious, George and O'Shea, June. The Girl from Peyton Place, Dell, 1965.
  2. ^ Lent, Robin. "Grace Metalious". St. James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_g1epc/is_bio/ai_2419200833. Retrieved 2008-08-07. 
  3. ^ Garner, Dwight (2005-07-31). "Inside the List". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/31/books/review/31TBR.html. Retrieved 2008-08-07. 
  4. ^ Simpson, James Beasley (1998). Simpson's Contemporary Quotations. Houghton Mifflin. pp. 311. ISBN 0-395-43085-2. 
  5. ^ Toth, Emily (2000). Inside Peyton Place: The Life of Grace Metalious. University Press of Mississippi. pp. 309. ISBN 1-578-06268-3. 
  6. ^ "Bullock to star as ‘Peyton Place’ author". msnbc.msn.com. 2006-03-09. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11748278/from/RSS/. Retrieved 2008-08-07. 
  7. ^ Boston Globe, April 8, 2007

External links

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