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Maxtone Graham, Joyce (1901–1953)

Maxtone Graham, Joyce (1901–1953)

British author . Name variations: (incorrectly) Joyce Maxtone-Graham; (pseudonym) Jan Struther. Born Joyce Anstruther on June 6, 1901; died on July 20, 1953, in New York City; daughter of Dame Eva Anstruther (a writer); married Anthony Maxtone Graham, in 1923 (divorced); married Adolf Kurt Placzek, in 1948; children: (first marriage) James Anstruther Maxtone Graham (b. 1924, a writer); Janet Maxtone Graham ; Robert Maxtone Graham.

Joyce Maxtone Graham was born into a literary family on June 6, 1901. Her mother, Dame Eva Anstruther , was an author but was best known for her service to the British Empire during World War I as director of the Camps Library, which made available millions of books to military personnel overseas. Joyce received her primary education in London, England, and obtained her first writing job as a contributor to the court page of the London Times, using the pseudonym Jan Struther to differentiate herself from her mother. In 1923, she married Anthony Maxtone Graham, with whom she had two sons and a daughter. Maxtone Graham published her first book, Betsinda Dances and Other Poems, in 1931, and soon had a devoted following. Her most notable work was Mrs. Miniver, a semi-autobiographical series of sketches on family life during wartime that was a tremendous commercial success upon its release in 1939. In 1942, the book was made into a popular film, starring Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon, that won six Academy Awards, including Best Actress for Garson (a sequel, The Miniver Story, was released in 1950).

During World War II, Maxtone Graham continued the tradition of service begun by her mother, lecturing throughout the United States on behalf of the British War Relief. She also published The Glass Blower in 1940 and edited Women of Britain in 1941. Her husband served in the war as a member of the Scots Guards, and was taken prisoner by the Germans in Libya in 1942. After the war ended, she remained in the United States, becoming a member of the library staff at Columbia University and divorcing her husband. She published Pocketful of Pebbles in 1946 and married Adolf Kurt Placzek, a colleague at the library, in 1948. Joyce Maxtone Graham was working on a semi-autobiographical novel at the time of her death on July 20, 1953.


Kunitz, Stanley J., ed. Twentieth Century Authors. NY: H.W. Wilson, 1942, and First Supplement, 1955.

related media:

Mrs. Miniver (134 min. film), starring Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, May Whitty , and Teresa Wright , directed by William Wyler, released in 1942.

The Miniver Story (104 min. film), starring Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, John Hodiak, and Cathy O'Donnell , released in 1950.

Grant Eldridge , freelance writer, Pontiac, Michigan

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