Michael Clement Otway Mayne was born at Harlestone, Northamptonshire, the son of Rev. Michael Ashton Otway Mayne, rector of that parish, and his wife Sylvia Clementia Lumley Ellis. His father committed suicide when Mayne was three years old, after which his mother moved the family to Torbay and then London. With the support of clerical charities, Mayne was educated at The King's School, Canterbury and later at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and Cuddesdon Theological College, Oxford. His early passion for acting and drama flourished while at university, though his former headmaster encouraged him to take up the priesthood.
Mayne served his curacy at St John's Harpenden (1957–1959) and then spent six years as chaplain to Mervyn Stockwood, Bishop of Southwark (1959–1965). In 1965, newly married, he became vicar of the Parish of Norton, Letchworth Garden City, where he carried out an effective ministry for the next seven years.
In 1972 Mayne was made the head of religious programmes for BBC Radio and in 1979 he became the vicar of Great St. Mary's, the university church of Cambridge.
During his 50s Mayne was diagnosed with ME and wrote a book about his experiences living with the syndrome (A Year Lost and Found). In 2005 he was diagnosed with terminal cancer of the jaw, and this led him to write a book about his battle with cancer (The Enduring Melody).
Harvey, A. E. (2010). "Mayne, Michael Clement Otway (1929–2006)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press [Jan 2010; online edition, Sept 2010; subscription of UK library membership required]