Grace Metalious

Grace Metalious

Manchester, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, USA
Death 25 Feb 1964 (aged 39)
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, USA
Burial Gilmanton, Belknap County, New Hampshire, USA
Memorial ID 710 · View Source
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Author. She burst upon the literary scene with her first novel, "Peyton Place" (1956), a scandalous look at the sordid goings-on in a fictional New England village. Trashed by the critics and denounced as immoral by religious groups, the book became a pop culture phenomenon, selling over 10 million copies. Metalious was publicized as a "Pandora in blue jeans" who lifted the lid on the suburban complacency of the Eisenhower era, and for years the name "Peyton Place" was a synonymous reference for any gossip-laden situation. The story was made into a blockbuster 1957 film starring Lana Turner, and inspired a prime time TV soap opera that aired from 1964 to 1969. Metalious was born Marie Grace de Repentigny in Manchester, New Hampshire, from a French Canadian background. Her impoverished, social-climbing mother insisted that the family deny their ethnicity to get ahead, and a loathing of hypocrisy fueled her ambition to write. In 1943 she married her high school sweetheart, George Metalious, and they later settled in the small New Hampshire town of Gilmanton, where the restrictive (she felt) atmosphere and closed-door intrigues gave her the idea for "Peyton Place". The manuscript was turned down by every major publisher before it was accepted by Kitty Messner of the Julian Messner firm, who personally sympathized with the author and became her mentor. Even so the tale required such extensive editorial revision to make it publishable that Metalious' authorship has been called into question. She did in fact employ a ghost writer for the best-selling sequel, "Return to Peyton Place" (1959), a book she did not want to write. Her other novels, "The Tight White Collar" (1961) and "No Adam in Eden" (1963), were failures. At the peak of her success Metalious responded to her critics by saying, "If I'm a lousy writer, then an awful lot of people have lousy taste", but their barbs devastated her fragile ego. Unable to cope with fame, she went through three failed marriages (including a remarriage to her first husband), squandered her newfound wealth on a series of worthless lovers, and fell into acute alcoholism. She died of cirrhosis of the liver at 39. The overwhelming popularity of "Peyton Place" marked a sea change in the way publishers did business, in which the emphasis shifted from literary merit and critical praise to timing and shrewd marketing. It launched a trend for unsophisticated "tell-all" fiction that continues to this day; the careers of such writers as Jacqueline Susann and Jackie Collins are unthinkable without "Peyton Place". In this regard Metalious was one of the most influential American authors of the mid-20th Century.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 710
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Grace Metalious (8 Sep 1924–25 Feb 1964), Find a Grave Memorial no. 710, citing Smith Meeting House Cemetery, Gilmanton, Belknap County, New Hampshire, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .