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Jan Struther was the pen name of Joyce Anstruther, later Joyce Maxtone Graham and finally Joyce Placzek (June 6, 1901 – July 20, 1953), an English writer remembered for her character Mrs. Miniver and a number of hymns, such as "Lord of All Hopefulness".

She was the daughter of Henry Torrens Anstruther and spent her childhood in Whitchurch in Buckinghamshire, England.

In 1923 she married Anthony Maxtone Graham, a broker at Lloyd's, by whom she had three children. In the 1930s she started to write for Punch magazine, and this brought her to the attention of The Times newspaper, where Peter Fleming asked her to write a series of columns for the paper, about "an ordinary sort of woman who leads an ordinary sort of life - rather like yourself". The character she created, Mrs Miniver, proved a huge success, and the columns were subsequently collected into book form in 1939.

Upon the outbreak of war, this book was used as the basis for a patriotic and sentimental film about Mrs Miniver, released in 1942, which won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

By this time, Struther had herself gone to America as a lecturer. In the 1940s Struther was a frequent guest panelist on the popular American radio quiz show Information Please, where she provided a warm and witty presence. She was one of the few women panelists to appear repeatedly on the program. In a possibly apocryphal story by fellow panelist Oscar Levant, Struther's appearances on the show stopped abruptly after she answered a question by referring to Agatha Christie's book Ten Little Niggers, which was the original British title of the book Ten Little Indians (later retitled And Then There Were None). Struther was supposedly so hurt and surprised by the backlash to her reference that she refused to appear on the show again.

Her long marriage to Anthony Maxtone Graham eventually failed, and Struther started an affair with Adolf Placzek, a Viennese art historian 12 years her junior. She married him as her second husband, 5 years before her death.

Her final years were marked by severe depression, leading to a five-month stay in a psychiatric hospital. Following a mastectomy for breast cancer, she died in of cancer in New York in 1953 at the age of 52. Her ashes are buried beside her father in the family grave at St. John The Evangelist Church, in Whitchurch.

As well as the creation of the character Mrs Miniver in a fortnightly column in The Times, Struther is remembered for her hymns for children, including "Lord of All Hopefulness", "When a Knight Won His Spurs" and "Daisies are Our Silver". These resulted from an approach by Canon Percy Dearmer of Westminster Abbey, who in 1931 was commissioned by Oxford University Press to compile a collection of hymns. Ironically, Struther herself was an agnostic, although she did go to church.

Struther is the subject of a biography, The Real Mrs. Miniver, written by her granddaughter, Ysenda Maxtone Graham. ISBN 0-7195-5541-8

She is the great-aunt of Ian Maxtone Graham, former co-executive producer of The Simpsons.

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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Jan Struther was the pen name of Joyce Anstruther, later Joyce Maxtone Graham and finally Joyce Placzek (6 June 190120 July 1953), an English writer remembered for her character Mrs. Miniver and a number of hymns, including Lord of All Hopefulness and When a Knight won his Spurs.

Sourced

  • O love's a simple word to say
    With nature aiding and abetting;
    • LONDON LOVERS, BETSINDA DANCES AND OTHER POEMS
  • For to love, loveless, is a bitter pill:
    But to be loved, unloving, bitterer still.
    • THE CHOICE, BETSINDA DANCES AND OTHER POEMS
  • And I am a mockery, who was God before.
    • AGE, BETSINDA DANCES AND OTHER POEMS
  • Then say–how come the years to seem so swift,
    The days, the days so slow?
    • A PARADOX, BETSINDA DANCES AND OTHER POEMS
  • Come, let us wage a holy war!
    • BALLADE OF VANISHING WILD FLOWERS, BETSINDA DANCES AND OTHER POEMS
  • Now heaven be thanked, I am out of love again!
    I have been long a slave, and now am free;
    • FREEDOM, BETSINDA DANCES AND OTHER POEMS
  • To be entirely at leisure for one day is to be for one day an immortal:
    • The New Car, Mrs. Miniver
  • In childhood the daylight always fails too soon -- except when there are going to be fireworks;
    • Guy Fawkes' Day, Mrs. Miniver
  • She noted with delight that he really did say "Ha!" This made a valuable addition to her collection. She had lately acquired a "Humph!" and two "Whews!" but she was still waiting in vain for a "Pshaw!"
    • The Eve of the Shoot, Mrs. Miniver

Unsourced

  • If silence is golden, then speech is platinum — it spreads wisdom, dispels ignorance, ventilates grievances, stimulates curiosity, lightens the spirits and lessens the fundamental loneliness of the soul.

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