Grace Metalious: Biographical Information
From Emily Toth, Inside Peyton Place: The Life of Grace Metalious (1981)

born Marie Grace de Repentigny in 1924, in Manchester, New Hampshire, in a "French-Canadian ghetto" (p. 8) 
Grace later claimed to have been named "Grace Marie Antoinette Jeanne d'Arc de Repentigny"father Albert largely absent / left when G was ten. "I scarcely remember my father, and never had a conversation with him in my life" (p. 14)

fact: 1920s = decade of women's rights (suffrage, ERA)
G was "a very spoiled child", cared for by mother, aunts, and grandmother / she would occasionally pack up and leave home, but soon return (pp.12-13)G was a voracious reader and writer / wrote her first novel in seventh grade: a Nancy Drew imitation (p. 18)

G met George Metalious when they were children / G from Greek enclave in Gilmanton NH / father Theophanes Metaleos
G fell in love "with the kind of man who always attracted her: tall, dark, handsome, and massive. Protective, dominating, fatherly" (Toth, p. 26)
They married at 18 / she was already pregnant / very difficult, life-threatening labor and delivery / first child = daughter (p. 38)

facts: median marriage age in USA in 1950 = 20 for women, 22 for men / by mid-50s, 60% of US women dropped out of college to get married."Feminist ideas -- careers rather than jobs, a variety of roles besides motherhood -- withered" (Toth p. 57).
George drafted into World War II / G began dating other men / George had affair in Germany
second child, son, born in 1947
early married years were desparate, financially and emotionally (pp. 35-59)
daughter born 1950 / another near-fatal labor and delivery (p. 61)
G has tubal ligation / according to her, she turned to writing as substitute fecundity (p. 62) / (but she had been writing since childhood)

G and family leave jobs and NH to travel in South and live with friends
when they return to NH she is ostracized for unconventional behavior (pp. 73-74)

Peyton Place partially inspired by Henry Bellamann's novel, Kings Row (1940): see Toth, pp. 76-77, 83-84, 140-141

some question of G's collaboration with others in writing PP: see pp. 80-81 
Toth implicitly concludes that G wrote the book [see 1999 Salon article]

sensational 1947 local incident of daughter killing abusive father and burying corpse in sheep pen (pp. 81-83)

G tried to publish two novels in 1955: The Quiet Place, about a young married couple, & The Tree and the Blossom (later PP
h er literary agent sent MS to various publishers / regular rejections 
a free-lance reader at Lippincott liked it & mentioned it in a job interview with Kathryn Messner (one of two women heading a publishing house) / Messner read it & bought it (pp. 85-87)

title changed by publisher's advertising agency: from The Tree and the Blossom to Peyton Place
MS edited by original reader, then by Messner (96-109): G upset with changes, but agreeable to most

major editorial changes:

displacement of incest: Lucas Cross was father in MS, step-father in published novel
G "felt her book was destroyed": it made the story trashy rather than tragic (105-106)additional love scene between Constance & Tom, written on the spot in editor's office 
"Take your goddamn love scene," G is quoted as saying to Messner (p. 106)

final scenes in NYC omit some details about Allison's lovers, Brad and David
reduce Allison's role as writer 
in manuscript, AM's novel Samuel's Castle is published; in novel it's not good enough to publish
G was unhappy with changes (p. 109)

during months PP is being prepared for publication, Grace & George begin to live apart 
G has highly visible affairs with locals 
begins to drink heavily (Toth terms it "post-book depression") (pp. 109-113)

G buys old house on outskirts of Gilmanton 
George's teaching contract is not renewed 
he takes teaching job in MA 
G & children remain in NH

"Pandora in Blue Jeans" photo taken by Larry Smith, photographer for Laconia NH newspaper 
he sells it to Messner for $15 (pp. 116-17) 
used on back cover of hardcover edition

publisher & media agents begin vigorous pre-publication campaign, including fabrications about Grace as conventional NE housewife and George as schoolteacher fired because of wife's scandalous book (pp. 117-123)

publicity photo of G
G remarks in broadcast interview about NE as picture-postcard: "But if you go beneath that picture, it's like turning over a rock with your foot -- all kinds of things crawl out" (p. 123)

one week before publication, PP was fourth on best-seller lists & 20th-Century Fox was bidding for film rights (130) 
G's agent negotiated $250,000 contract / G received $75,000 initial check (p. 147)

after publication PP was on best-sellers list for six months 
novel sold over 100,000 copies in first month 
paperback rights sold to Dell in bidding war
PP became one of Dell's biggest sellers: over 12 million copies by 1980

G began to receive hate mail & phone calls
children were picked on in school 
PP banned in IN & RI 
Canada refused importation 
G engaged in letters-to-editor squabble in Nashua NH Telegraph

although most reviews were negative and condemning, one contemporary review by Carlos Baker in NY Times Book Review placed G in serious literary tradition of Sherwood Anderson & John O'Hara (pp. 135-136)

Toth notes "unusual perceptions for 1956: that wife-beating is not inevitable; that rape is an act of violence, not sexual pleasure; that abortion can mean saving a life -- the mother's. Women who depend too heavily on men -- for sex, money, or a sense of self -- lose out in Peyton Place" (p. 143) / PP has positive messages for women / it is a proto-feminist "attack on the feminine mystique -- against the idea that a woman should have only one destiny in life" (145)
G begins public affair with local disk jockey, who becomes her manager 
George catches wife & lover in bed, takes photos 
eventually G & G divorce 
Grace marries D.J.

Hollywood producer, Jerry Wald, takes on PP as movie 
G hired as "script consultant" but has no hand in screenplay & never sees script (172)

movie whitewashes novel, "doing exactly what she'd fought against in writing Peyton Place" (Toth p. 173)
pp. 188-192 give details of film's self-censorship 
filmed in Maine & CA 
nominated for 9 Academy Awards / Lana Turner resurgence (post-Stompanato scandal) plus young unknowns

brief review of Peyton Place the movie
G remodels $5000 cottage in Gilmanton with $100,000 in improvements 
she & children frequent The Plaza Hotel in NYC (179-182)

very difficult, angry relation with mother, Laurette (pp. 184-85)

Return to PP written in 30 days 
lucrative advance from Hollywood 
MS judged terrible by publisher 
ghostwriter hired (Warren Miller) 
published in1959 to unanimously bad reviews ( 218-21)

1959: auto accident with Grace, daughter, & mother 
minor injuries 
mother sues G for negligence 
settled for $16,000

1960: G & second husband divorce
RI newsdealer convicted for selling PP to minor (17 year-old boy)
G remarries George / moves to Martha's Vineyard

Toth is insightful about differences in cultural expectations re: drinking male writer vs. drinking female writer (249-250)
1960: The Tight White Collar / G's favorite book (253)
G swindled by her agent 
recovers most of the losses (257-261)
premier of movie, Return to PP, in Laconia NH

1961: G's daughter marries at 17 / G becomes grandmother

Toth description: "In Marsha's wedding pictures, Grace looks much older than thirty-seven. Though she smiles a great deal, as if contented with the world, her face looks ruddy with broken blood vessels, a sign of heavy drinking: her body looks bloated and ungainly. Still, she is smiling in most of the pictures -- and holding a cigarette and a drink. She wears her hair upswept, no longer in her trademark ponytail, though later she claimed she'd abandoned her ponytail because it was inappropriate for a grandmother" (p. 276)
1961: IRS rules that G owes $163,000 in back taxes dues to underreported income

1963: No Adam in Eden / receives very bad reviews

more heavy drinking 
l iterary concern about cirrhosis of liver in plot of No Adam in Eden
brief consultation with psychiatrist
G & George separate
G befriends Britishman John Rees, who becomes lover
general decay in health & personal care
Feb64: G suffers severe attack / hemorrhaging / death due to cirrhosis of liver
doctor who examined G on morning of death estimated that liver condition was due to equivalent consumption of a fifth every day for 5 years (333)
G's deathbed advice to John Rees: "Be careful of what you want, you may get it," & "Run for your life, sweetie, there's trouble coming" (325)
on hospital deathbed, G changes her Will so that Rees inherits everything
children contest Will 
Rees turns out to be married with 5 children in England 
negotiations break down 
probate judge rules new Will valid 
debts consume estate (334)
1964: TV pilot for Peyton Place series / begins in Sep64
first evening soap opera
more sanitizing of story, characters, community
hit series for 5 years 

PP #10 on all-time best-sellers list 1920-1980 (p. 368)

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