"If I'm a lousy writer,
then an awful lot of people
have lousy taste."

        -- Grace Metalious


Grace Metalious

She was born Marie Grace DeRepentigny on September 8, 1924, in Manchester, New Hampshire. She was born into poverty and a broken home. Although she was blessed with that greatest of gifts -- imagination -- there was no reason to expect greatness for young Grace. But she was driven to write and she kept at it. In her teens she married George Metalious, became a housewife and mother, lived in near squalor -- and she continued to write.

In 1956 her novel Peyton Place was published and nothing was ever the same again. Things changed drastically for Grace and her family and it's not stretching it to say that things changed drastically for lots of passionate readers who snuck around with Grace's racy book. Maybe the whole universe changed because of that book. For a while there in the late 1950s, people on other planets were probably sneaking around with dog-eared copies of Peyton Place in their hip-pockets, assuming people on other planets even have hip-pockets, which may be on their foreheads for all we know, but we won't go into that here.

Grace Metalious -- the "Pandora in bluejeans" -- was said by some to be a lousy writer and a purveyer of filth, but time goes by, things change, and then the whole game starts over again with new rules. Now, nearly half a century later, Metalious is recognized as the writer whose most famous book changed the publishing industry forever. Maybe she didn't know she was a revolutionary -- maybe none of us knew it at the time -- but she was.

The Grace Metalious story is a fascinating one, almost as interesting as the stories she told in her books. For anybody who wants to explore deeper inside this writer's personal history, we enthusiastically recommend Emily Toth's Inside Peyton Place: The Life of Grace Metalious, first published by Doubleday in 1981 and recently reissued by University Press of Mississippi.

Incidentally -- and this is highly cosmic -- we purchased our copy of the new edition of Emily Toth's book in Camden, Maine -- where much of the 1957 film version of Peyton Place was filmed.

 

 

 

 

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