Born in 1924, Grace Metalious hailed from Manchester, N.H., with nothing more than an imagination and the passion to write. Often locking herself in the bathroom for hours, Metalious used writing as a way to escape the pressing matters of her life. With a cheating husband, an affair of her own, and decrepit shack of a house nicknamed “It’ll Do,” Metalious saw writing as her saving grace.
And in fact, it was just that. After its release in 1956, “Peyton Place” remained on the best-seller list for half a year and sold more than 100,000 copies during a time when first novels generally sold a mere 3,000. The racy novel went on to sell over 12 million more copies making it one of the most widely read novels ever. A true novel of seduction and provocation for its era, many Americans hid their copy in a dresser drawer or closet, taking it out only when no one was there to cast judgment.
Grace Metalious died at the young age of 39. Tortured by her own demons of alcohol, Metalious still managed to pave the way for women writers. A true pioneer of women’s rights, Metalious believed all women deserved a life of happiness, not one reserved solely to kitchens and aprons.
Metalious illustrates a woman years ahead of her time. Often photographed in jeans and oversized flannel shirts, with her hair back in a ponytail, Metalious was depicted as a woman of vigor and strength who rarely followed the norms of society. “Peyton Place” received negative reviews for its filthy content but sparked an international curiosity. Could it be that a woman was responsible for such seductive topics? Indeed.