Metalious Place

by admin - November 19th, 2013

In 1956, Grace Metalious published Peyton Place, a novel that would astonish a nation of people and in addition, bring Metalious a life of infamy. Metalious lived in Gilmanton, New Hampshire; a small town that many have speculated was the source of inspiration for Peyton Place. However, many people do not know the issues Metalious was facing in her own life. Metalious sacrificed relationships with her family members and neglected her own children in order to complete the novel. The townspeople in Gilmanton resented Metalious for writing a book about their personal lives even though no real names were used. The widespread success of Peyton Place was incredibly impressive, and the novel is still discussed today. But was the incredible fame and success of the novel worth the consequences suffered by Grace Metalious for her honest account of small town life in the 1950s?

In the fifties, Metalious was struggling to pay the bills and to feed her children decent meals. George Metalious was in school working towards a teaching degree so when Grace Metalious wanted to write, she locked her children out of the apartment with no one to look out for them. These actions caused many of her neighbors to judge her and would harm her image after she gained fame. Grace Metalious had always dreamed of being a writer, but Peyton Place became more than she could have imagined. In the article, “The Accidental Blockbuster: ‘Peyton Place’ in Literary and Institutional Context,” Evan Brier discusses how the reviews on Metalious are notable because “[her] output is described in terms of possibility and potential; her career is considered a literary one, and it is on those grounds that she succeeds or fails (Brier 53). The widespread success of the novel was almost immediate, and soon after the novel became a movie. It seemed as though the novel was recognized more for its promiscuity than its literary significance.

Metalious’s novel proved to be a truthful depiction of small town life when angry Gilmanton townspeople spread harsh gossip about her after the novel’s release. They spread stories about Metalious cheating on her husband and acting crude and promiscuous around others in town. Metalious and her family began to suffer. George Metalious lost his job, and George Metalious’s co-worker sued Grace Metalious for basing the character of Tom Markis off him. George and Grace Metalious divorced after George threatened to sue Grace’s boyfriend for adultery. Instead, Grace offered to pay George to attain his master’s degree. After the divorce, Grace Metalious became involved in many volatile relationships, and the stress led her to abuse alcohol. The rumors and the pressures she faced led her to drink every day for five years straight, which ultimately killed her at the age of 39.

The release of Peyton Place gave Grace Metalious what she always wanted, a career as a writer, but it also destroyed most other aspects of her life. Metalious lost her husband, strained relationships with her children, and faced cruel treatment from those who were angry about the novel. Grace became similar to the characters in her novel, trapped in a world where every one was judging her, and she could not escape. The novel is still famous today for the impact it had on the generation living in 1950s America. However, today, we also recognize that Grace Metalious suffered for having the courage to expose what others were to afraid to talk about.

— Amanda P.

Works Cited

Brier, Evan. “The Accidental Blockbuster: ‘Peyton Place’ in Literary and Institutional Context.” Women’s Studies Quarterly. 33. {2005): 48-65. Print.

Callahan, Michael. “Peyton Place’s Real Victim.” Vanity Fair. N.p., Mar. 2006. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

3 Responses to “Metalious Place”

  1. Courtney Mullin says:

    Before reading this, I was unaware that Metalious based this off of her hometown and people that she knew. This book has many controversial topics and it makes sense why they do not want to be associated with that type of behavior. This is such a great novel that shows an alternative to what the 1950s is usually perceived as. That fact that she drank herself to death and did not really appreciating her fame is sad.

  2. Erin Rice says:

    I was surprised by Metallious’s downfall after the publication of her novel. Despite the fact that the novel greatly changed readers’ view on the fifties, as well as had a lasting impact for later generations, Metallious was still negatively affected after its publication. It is ironic that Metallious only wanted to write a novel and when that was completed, her fame brought her notoriety rather than happiness.

  3. Alex Derian says:

    I thought it was interesting how the book was based on her own hometown. I can see why she had so much hatred for the time period and how it was perceived, given how she grew up with stories like these. I also thought it was interesting and negligent how she locked her kids out of the apartment while trying to write.