Metalious, Grace: Peyton Place
(researched by Dara Jones)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description

1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)

Published by Julian Messner, Inc. 8 West 40th Street, New York 18
Published simultaneously in Canada by the Copp Clark Publishing Co. Limited Copyright 1956 by Grace Metalious

2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?

The first edition appeared in cloth.

3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available

4 Pagination

191 leaves, 22 cm. Title page, Dedication, page with title, p.1-372 blank page, blank page

5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?

The book is neither edited nor introduced.

6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?

There are no illustrations.

7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available

8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)

The dust jacket is chipped on the top, most likely due to excessive reading, since it is a library book. It is divided into three sections or books, with each book beginning with chapter 1. Each book begins on a fresh page with chapter on right below and a diamond on both sides of the one. Throughout the 'book' and new chapter appears on the same page as the previous one, and page numbers appear at the bottom. Look at the example:

9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available

10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)

Off-white colored paper, medium-light weight. My copy is taken from the public library, and appears in mint condition. It looks as if it has been checked out a good number of times. Throughout the novel there are slight stains on the pages. The pages have a rough trim, so when closed there is a jagged edge, a soft ripple.

11 Description of binding(s)

The binding is black cloth with silver lettering. There is a double line|circular symbol|PEYTON|PLACE|circular symbol|double line|Metalious|double line|MESSNER. (See illustration in supplemental materials). The cover is peeling on the top and the bottom, and has tape on the sides to hold it together.

12 Transcription of title page


13 JPEG image of title page, if available

14 Manuscript Holdings

Peyton place manuscript, .45 cubic ft. : carbon typescr
ipt. Publication info: 1956 Located in the Rare Books Room, University Libraries, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pa. The collection contains an incomplete copy of the novel Peyton Place. The bulk of it is in carbon typescript, with some original typescript pages, a few pages of the holograph draft, alternative pages, unnumbered pages, and fragments of pages.
source: Worldcat (VIRGO)

15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)

A small zig-zag line provides a top (above the title) and bottom (under the author name) border. Above the publisher's name appears their logo/symbol: a circle with a JM.

Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History

1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A

There were no other editions from this publishing company.

2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available

3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available

4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?

There were atleast 27, as the copy I have is the first edition, 27th printing. The First Printing: 1,000,000 copies.
SOURCE: Publisher's Weekly: August 19, 1957

5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A

Simon and Schuster,1956 (Book Club Edition) Dell,1956 International Collectors Library,1956 Pocket Books,1956 Frederick Muller,1957 Dell Pub. Co.,1957 Pocket Books,1965 Constancia,1965 Pan Books,1968,1978 Seghers,1977 Buccaneer Books,1991 1954
Source: WorldCat

6 Last date in print?

Peyton Place. Boston : Northeastern University Press, 1999.

7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)

According to Hackett's 80 Years of Best Sellers, 1895-1975, it sold 10,670,302 in hardcover and paperback combined. It also stated that the edition by Pocket Books sold 10,070,000. (NOTE: The original publisher, Julian Messner, was purchased by Pocket Books,Inc. in 1964.
SOURCE: 80 Years of Best Sellers, 1895-1975 and History of Book Publishing in the United States

8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)


9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)

1 free for 10 to celebrate the first anniversary of PEYTON PLACE

At the top of the bestseller list one year after publication. 297, 000 in print! August sales 27,427! First week in September: 13,594!

Traffic-stopping three-dimensional full-color poster available to tie-in with the coming movie!

Send in your order today for America's most controversial novel and sensational bestseller. 1 free for 10 offer good for entire month of October.

$3.95. Julian Messner, INC., 8 West 40th Street, N.Y. 18

10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available

11 Other promotion

In the September 23, 1957 Publishers' Weekly it stated: "that Dell upped its initial print order for the September 24 book first to 1,500,000, then 2,000,000 before publi
cation, "probably the largest single first printing for a novel", says Dell hopefully. The largest promotion and publicity budget in Dell's history is behind the campaign for the book. Over 200,000 point-of-sale promotion pieces have already gone out and new ones are being prepared."

12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A

Television Show: Twentieth Century-Fox Television, 196
4-1969; PUB TYPE: Archive/Manuscript Control NOTES: Premiered on 9/15/64 and ran through 6/2/69. Library's copies are mimeographic copies.
VIDEO: Peyton Place. Beverly Hills, CA : FoxVideo, 1992 & 1957 1 videocassette (157 min.) : sd., col., stereo. ; 1/2 in.

13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A

Miasteczko Peyton Place Katowice: Od Nowa, 1994. 429 p. ; 25 cm. Polish.
Die Leute von Peyton Place: Roman Hamburg : Rowohlt, 1958 1956. 349 p. ; 21 cm. German.
Gradic Peyton Zagreb : Zora, 1970. 424 p. ; 21 cm. Serbo-Croatian.
Peiton Plais: roman Tel Aviv : Sh. Fridman, 1958. 356 p. ; 21 cm. Hebrew.
Amar n?o È pecado : romance3. ed. Lisboa : Editora Arc·dia, 1968. 373 p. ; 19 cm. Portuguese.
Peyton Place Barcelona : Ediciones Orbis, 1983; 1988. 443 p. ; 20 cm. Spanish.

14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A


15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A

Metalious, Grace. Return to Peyton Place. New York, J. Messner 1959.

Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author

1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)

Over 20 years ago, Grace Metalious wrote a book that gave birth to modern-day soap operas; yet she has still managed to sink into obscurity. Although in-depth details on the famous novelists are hard to find, her fans are able to learn the basic facts on Mrs. Metalious.
On September 8, 1924, Alfred and Laurette de Repentingny gave birth to Grace de Repentingny, a future best-seller novelist. Like the characters of Peyton Place, Grace Metalious resided in New England--Manchester, New Hampshire--for her entire life. Attending public schools in New Hampshire, Grace never succeeded past high school. Almost twenty years later in 1942, Grace married George Metalious and produced three children--Marsha, Christopher and Cynthia. Throughout her short life, Metalious remained a New Hampshire resident, and upon her death on February 25, 1964 she lived at R.F.D. 1, Gilmanton, NH.
While married life took up a lot of time, Grace began her writing career, with Peyton Place as her first novel, in 1956. Grace was 32 at the time her novel became one of the country's bestsellers. For her first novel, and the succeeding two, Grace used Julian Messner publishing company. Messner is a small publishing company in New York. Her works include Peyton Place (1956), Return to Peyton Place (1959), The Tight White Collar (1960), and >i>No Adam in Eden (1963). ( Grace Metalious, of Franco-American heritage, wrote works which deal primarily with issues surrounding Franco-American women. For example: The Tight White Collar and No Adam in Eden ( Her success as a writer put Grace in the spotlight for a couple of years, with her novel even transformed into feature films and television series. Like some celebrities, a constant spotlight is detrimental. On February 25,1964, Grace Metalious died at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston due to liver disease. She is buried in the Smith Meeting House Cemetery, Gilmanton, New Hampshire. (
**There is a book on the life of Grace Metalious, however I was unable to locate and obtain it for this assignment--Inside Peyton Place: the life of Grace Metalious by Emily Toth. (New York: Doubleday, 1981).

Assignment 4: Reception History

1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

Sex and scandal. In 1956, after the first publication of Peyton Place, sex and scandal was all the literary world knew. While many 90's readers will not feel taken aback by the vulgarity and crudity of Mrs. Metalious' imagination, her 50's readers were not accustomed to the subject manner. "This novel is one of the cheapest, most blatant attempts in years to present the most noxiously commonplace in ideas and behavior in the loose and ill-worn guise of realistic art" (Catholic World 152).
The New England setting, the dramatic and problematic characters and steamy chapters had every house wife and bedtime reader running to the bookstore to purchase Peyton Place. Despite popular success among her readers, critics condemned Mrs. Metalious book and writing style. Critics believed that scandal and sex was the only focus of the book; if not for those two, there is no best-seller. "There is no story, and at the end one cannot say what the book is about" (Saturday Review 46). Numerous critics found Metalious' writing skills lacking, and that "throughout the novel there is a sluggish, tidal movement of incident and reaction driving personae back and forth" (Sat R 46).
While today sex seems like a prerequisite for many movies, television shows and novels, Metalious' critics condemned her for incorporating it into her novel. The New York Herald Tribune wrote "sex is the dominant accent of the book and Mrs. Metalious, in her effort to be realistic, spares neither detail or language in high-lighting her scenes in bed, car or on the beach. Invariable, even in moments which should be tender and understanding, she injects an offensively crude note. In fact the book reads like a tabloid version of life in a small town" (8). There were similar negative reviews found in The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle and Time.
How, then, could a book labeled "lurid" and "cheap" become a best-seller in the 1950's? Cosmopolitan accredited that to Metalious' publisher and publicity people. "Peyton Place was made a best-seller by a tremendous publicity campaign which focused the attention on the story's two rapes, four seductions, two pregnancies of unmarried girls, two abortions and the murder of a rapist by his victim" (41).
While there was an overwhelming number of negative reviews, some critics believed Peyton Place to be a well-deserved best-seller. "She [Metalious] has humor, heart, vigor, a feeling for irony..." and "she captures a real sense of the tempo, texture and tensions in the social anatomy of a small town."
Reviews: Catholic World (11.1956) Chicago Tribune Review (9.23.56) Library Journal (9.15.56) New York Herald Tribune Book Review (9.23.56) New York Times (9.23.56) New Yorker (10.20.56) San Francisco Chronicle (9.28.56) Saturday Review (10.6.56 & 11.3.56) Time (9.24.56) Virginia Kirkus (7.15.56) Life (11.12.56) Look (3.18.58)

2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

The 1956 best-seller vanished for several decades before reemerging again, in print, in 1999. During that lapse, Peyton Place was made into several other media forms--a television series and Fox-feature movie. Due to its scandalous content and sexy plot, Peyton Place has been used in numerous references from describing the Presidential cabinet to being called the mother of modern-day soap operas.
Due to the sudden and recent appearance of Metalious' novel, there were few reviews on the novel. The most noteworthy are found on, with literary and reader critics. Unlike the harsh critics of the late 50's, modern readers seem to not only enjoy Metalious' scandalous plot, but view it as a overlooked classic. "Peyton Place is an under-appreciated classic...that paved the way for many women writers and practically invented the entire genre" ( Kirkus continues the praise: "Metalious was a competent writer with some flair whose punchy workmanlike prose efficiently captured her little inland New England hamlet's earthy (if somewhat unbelievably sexually functional) populace."

Assignment 5: Critical Analysis

1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)

Sex, violence and murder-aren't those the characteristics of a juicy novel? In a society where Stephen King and Danielle Steel top the best-seller lists, one would be inclined to agree. However, readers of the 19
50's were not prepared for the sexy thriller of Peyton Place that uncovered every secret and rumor of any household. Grace Metalious created a story so unconventional, so sexy and so scandalous that every housewife and rebellious teen in America r
ead its contents. The novel topped the 1956 best-seller list and in 1975, it sold over ten million copies in hardcover and paperback combined. "In less than a year it reached the 7,277,000-copy mark" (James 41). The novel later turned into a successful mo
tion picture with and a television series, proving to be an extremely influential book of the latter decade. Several factors contributed to its success including its risqué content, an extensive publicity campaign and the real life drama of the author bey
ond the novel.
Published in 1956, Peyton Place "unbuttoned the straitlaced New England of popular imagination" (book cover). In the fictitious town of Peyton Place, there was your incest, unwed pregnancy, power struggles and everyday gossip. Suburban residents fr
om all over could easily relate to the issues, characters and problems of Peyton Place. " "I'm sure you're writing about my town," a reader wrote Metalious. "I live in Peyton Place" "(Cameron ix). While Metalious claimed that Peyton Pl
was purely imaginative, there was truly an ample douse of reality within the story. Beyond the pretty landscape, Metalious uncovered the heart of every New England town, baring it to the world. "To a tourist these towns look as peaceful as a postc
ard picture, but if you go beneath that picture it's like turning over a rock with your foot. All kind of strange things come out. Everybody whole lives in the town knows what's going on-there are no secrets-but they don't want outsiders to know" (Cosm
opolitan 38).
At a time when sex was tabooed and problems were masked, critics were amazed with Metalious boldness. The reviews Peyton Place received were extremely mixed, with most praising her for her candidness. "Authoress Metalious is not all flustered by sex, she
captures a real sense of the tempo, texture and tensions in the social anatomy of a small town" (Time 100). Another reviewer appreciated the Metalious for her "humor, heart, vigor, [and] a feeling for irony" (San Francisco Chronicle 17). However, there re
mained an abundance of critics who could only focus on the sexy content. "This novel is one of the cheapest, most blatant attempts in years to present the most noxiously commonplace in ideas and behavior in the loose and ill-worn guise of realistic art" (
Catholic World 152).
While the focus seemed to remain on the lewd and sexual content, its popularity stemmed from the taboo attached to the novel. In 1956, Americans were not supposed to read Peyton Place. Although people knew things such as abortion, rape and incest o
ccurred, no one wanted to talk about them. Those were secrets that were supposed to remain covered. Critics were quick to blame for the sexual content, but did not acknowledge that her realism prompted the novel's success. In a Cosmopolitan interview Met
alious stated, "I don't know what all the screaming is about. To me, Peyton Place isn't sexy at all. Sex is something everybody lives with-why make such a big deal about it." Readers were relieved that someone acknowledged their troubles and wasn
't afraid to discuss them. For example, the story of Selena's sexual abuse by her father Lucas Cross was based on Jane Glenn "a local girl who confessed in 1947 to killing her father and then, along with her younger brother, burying him in the barn" (Ca
meron xi). While newspapers covered the incident, many were afraid to tell the story as it was, shunning away from words such as "rape" or "incest." While Metalious was criticized for her blatancy, she should have been praised for her candidness. She was
n't afraid to be real and address the issues. Metalious set the "landscape of female desire, of woman-owned dreams dead and denied" (Cameron xxv).
The author's public persona also contributed to the popularity of the book. At the time Grace Metalious was already a mother of three and married to a school principal in Gilmanton, New Hampshire. Aside from writing, Metalious' main work was in the home
as a housewife. Her publicity crew emphasized her role and became known as the "housewife who wrote bestsellers" (Cameron xv). Thus tactic was enormously successful as a marketing tool, it also meant that Metalious's work would be judged as much for wh
at it revealed about her role as a wife and mother as for what it disclosed about her skills as a writer" (Cameron xxv). The media also emphasized her residency in the small town of Gilmanton. After Peyton Place's release, the residents of Gilman
ton took personal offense to the novel, believing it was based on them. Shortly after, George Metalious was fired from his job as principle. The media used his job loss to add another air of mystery to the novel, leading Americans to believe that its' co
ntents were so raunchy that a man even lost his job over them.
Julian Messner, Peyton Place's publisher, did an extraordinary job of publicizing the novel. Yet, the story basically sold itself. In 1957, it appeared as a Twentieth Century Fox motion picture starring Academy Award nominated actress Lana Turner,
Lee Philips and Hope Lange. The movie received 9 Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Director (Mark Robson) and Best Screenplay. The film was later made into a popular 1960's television series starring Mia Farrow and Ryan O'Neal. The
show aired from 1964 to 1969 and later served as the basis for modern-day soap operas.
Aside from the popularity in the media, the 1956 bestseller was recently published through Northeastern University Press. It features an in-depth and insightful introduction by Ardis Cameron examining the numerous issues within the text, including gender
roles, class, and ethnicity. Since the book is now presented to a society in which sex and violence is a commonality, critics were able to focus more on Metalious' writing skills and not the content. Kirkus stated that "Metalious was a competent writer w
ith some flair whose punchy workmanlike prose efficiently captured her little inland New England's hamlet's earthy populace. Peyton Place is, on its own terms, both a perfectly decent popular novel and an honest one" (Kirkus, 1999).
As a modern-day reader and through recent reviews, it is clear that Grace Metalious came way before her time. While she still made bestseller status, the 1950's critics were not able to appreciate and acknowledge her intuitiveness of the problems and tho
ughts of women. Nonetheless, Peyton Place was a national success, giving rise to novels written by, for and about women.
Sources: Peyton Place. Northwestern University Press, 1999. Catholic World (11.56) Chicago Tribune Review (9.23.56) Cosmopolitan (8.56 & 8.58) Library Journal (9.15.56) New York Herald Tribune Book Review (9.23.56) New York Times (9.23.56) New Yorker (10.20.56) People (5.6.85) San Francisco Chronicle (9.28.56) Saturday Review (10.6.56 & 11.3.56) Time (9.24.56) Virginia Kirkus (7.15.56) Life (11.12.56) Look (3.18.58)

Supplemental Material

Another advertisment for <i>Peyton Place</i>

Binding of first edition

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