Peyton Place (novel)

Peyton Place (novel)

"Peyton Place" is a 1956 novel by Grace Metalious.

Selling sixty thousand copies within the first ten days of its release, it was publishing's second "blockbuster," (following "Gone with the Wind" in 1936) and remained on the "New York Times" best seller list for fifty-nine weeks. The main plot follows the lives of three women - lonely and repressed Constance MacKenzie, her illegitimate daughter Allison, and her employee Selena Cross, a girl from "across the tracks" or as it is called in the book "from the shacks" - and how they come to terms with their identity as women and sexual beings in a small New England town. Hypocrisy, social inequities, and class privilege are recurring themes in a tale that includes incest, abortion, adultery, lust and murder. "Peyton Place" has become an expression used to describe any place with sordid secrets.


Contrary to popular belief, the "real" Peyton Place is not only Gilmanton, New Hampshire but also Gilford, Laconia and Gilmanton Iron Works, New Hampshire.

Several characters and events were drawn from events in nearby towns and people Metalious actually knew. Selena Cross was based on Jane Glenn, a 20-year-old girl from Gilmanton Iron Works, New Hampshire, who murdered her father after years of sexual abuse and buried his body under a goat pen. (In the novel, Selena kills her stepfather, since incest was considered too taboo for readers at the time. Metalious' editor Kitty Messner made the change, much to the author's dismay and disapproval.) Another controversial character was the salacious school principal Tomas Makris, who bore the name and physical description of a Laconia resident and co-worker of Metalious's school teacher husband. Makris sued for libel, winning an out-of-court settlement for $60,000. It later was revealed that Metalious had forged Makris's name on a release form, and the character was renamed Michael Rossi for the film version and television adaptation of the novel.

Some citizens of the Lakes Region took umbrage at the notoriety that was quickly thrust upon the area, and directed their resentment at Metalious. Vicious rumors began circulating about the author, some true (Metalious had an affair), and some preposterous (she bought groceries while wearing a fur coat and nothing underneath). Metalious later tried to cash in on her success when she helped buy a motel on Lake Winnipesaukee that was re-christened the Peyton Place Motel, but it was an unsuccessful venture. Decades after the publication of the novel and the death of its author, many in Metalious' former hometown have forgotten the controversy, but the topic of "Peyton Place" still raises the ire of some. []

Despite the controversy and social commentary present in the novel, Metalious insisted that "Peyton Place" was a work of fiction. When John Michael Hayes, the screenwriter for the film adaptation, asked her if the novel was her autobiography, Metalious asked him to repeat the question and then spilled her drink on him.

Metallious wrote very accurately about New Englanders and many in her hometown still remember to this day the scandal caused by the book. She was almost barred from being buried in the church cemetery, but the church and townsfolk in Gilmanton finally relented. To this day someone puts flowers on her grave in the far off corner plot. High school students in Gilmanton, Gilford and Laconia, New Hampshire are assigned this book as required reading and learn to separate the local truth from the fiction.

Plot summary

Town Secrets:

Allison MacKenzie is the daughter of Constance MacKenzie. Constance had left Peyton Place for New York city at a young age, hoping to snag a charming and wealthy husband. She found a man named Allison MacKenzie, but he was already married with children, and he died shortly after Constance became pregnant with young Allison. Constance returned to Peyton Place as a "widow" with a year-old baby girl. Constance altered her daughter Allison's birthdate to make her appear legitimate. Selena Cross was the daughter of Nellie Cross, who married Lucas Cross soon after Selena's birth. Selena was not Lucas' daughter. Lucas also had a son named Paul who was away. Nellie and Lucas later had a child together, Joey who lives with them and Selena in "the shacks," or poor section of town. When Selena turned fourteen years old, Lucas Cross began to abuse her, impregnating her and leaving the local doctor in a troublesome situation in which he decided to perform an abortion. The doctor made Lucas leave town, and after she discovered this, Nellie committed suicide by hanging herself.

Leslie Harrington is the richest man in town and all of the things he accomplished were shattered into pieces when he lost his only son Rodney in a car accident. There is a not-wholly-unexpected surprise at the end of the novel.


Metalious followed up "Peyton Place" with "Return to Peyton Place" in 1959. Although the sequel sold well, its success did not approach that of the original.

ee also

*Illegitimacy in fiction


"Peyton Place's Real Victim" by Michael Callahan, "Vanity Fair", March 2006, p. 332.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Peyton Place — may refer to:* Peyton Place (novel) , a 1956 novel by Grace Metalious * Peyton Place (film) , a 1957 film, adapted from the novel * Peyton Place (TV series) , a prime time soap opera which ran on ABC from 1964 to 1969, also adapted from the novel …   Wikipedia

  • Peyton Place (TV series) — Peyton Place Original title card (1964–1966) Genre Soap opera Created by Grace Metalious (original 1956 novel) …   Wikipedia

  • Peyton Place — [Peyton Place] a novel (1956) by the US writer Grace Metalious which shocked many people but still sold millions of copies. It is about the sexual relationships and often dishonest behaviour of people living in a small ↑New England town. There… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Peyton Place (film) — Infobox Film name = Peyton Place caption= Original film poster imdb id = 0050839 producer = Jerry Wald director = Mark Robson writer = John Michael Hayes Based on the novel by Grace Metalious starring = Lana Turner Diane Varsi Hope Lange Lee… …   Wikipedia

  • Peyton Place — Pey|ton Place a novel by Grace Metalious that was made into a very popular television ↑soap opera (1964 68), about the lives of a group of people in a small town in ↑New England. People sometimes say that a situation is like Peyton Place when… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Peyton Place — a novel (1956) by the US writer Grace Metalious which shocked many people but still sold millions of copies. It is about the sexual relationships and often dishonest behaviour of people living in a small New England town. There was a film version …   Universalium

  • Return to Peyton Place — After the phenomenal success of her first novel, the blockbuster hit Peyton Place (1956), Metalious hastily penned a sequel centering on the life and loves of bestselling author Allison MacKenzie, who ironically follows in the footsteps of her… …   Wikipedia

  • Murder in Peyton Place — Written by Grace Metalious (original novel) Richard De Roy Directed by Bruce Kessler Starring Dorothy Malone Ed Nelson Tim O Connor Joyce Jillson Christopher Connelly …   Wikipedia

  • Return to Peyton Place (TV series) — infobox television show name = Return to Peyton Place format = soap opera rating = TV 14 (U.S.) runtime = 30 Minutes creator = country = USA network = NBC first aired = April 3, 1972 last aired = January 4, 1974 num episodes = 425 + 1 primetime… …   Wikipedia

  • Place — A place is a location in space.Place may refer to: *Place (mathematics), an equivalence relation defined on absolute values of an integral domain or field *Place (United States Census Bureau), defined as any concentration of population **Census… …   Wikipedia

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