Joyce Maynard

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Joyce Maynard
Joyce maynard 2010.jpg
Maynard at the 2010 Texas Book Festival
Born (1953-11-05) November 5, 1953 (age 62)
Durham, New Hampshire, United States
Spouse(s) Steve Bethel (1977–1989; divorced; three children)
Jim Barringer (married 2013)

Daphne Joyce Maynard (born November 5, 1953) is an American journalist, author, and academic, known for writing with candor about her life, as well as for her works of fiction and hundreds of essays and newspaper columns, often about parenting and family. The 1998 publication of her memoir, At Home in the World, made her the object of intense criticism among some members of the literary world for having revealed the story of the relationship she had with author J. D. Salinger when he was 53 and she was 18. Maynard is the mother of actor Wilson Bethel.

Early life[edit]

Maynard was born in Durham, New Hampshire, the daughter of Fredelle (née Bruser), a journalist, writer, and teacher, and Max Maynard, a painter and professor of English.[1] Her father was born in India, to English missionary parents, and later moved to Canada; her mother was Jewish (she was born in Saskatchewan, to immigrants from Russia).[2][3][4] Maynard attended the Oyster River School District and Phillips Exeter Academy. She won early recognition for her writing from The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, winning student writing prizes in 1966, 1967, 1968, 1970, and 1971. While in her teens, she wrote regularly for Seventeen magazine. She entered Yale University in 1971 and sent a collection of her writings to the editors of The New York Times Magazine. They asked her to write an article for them, which was published as "An Eighteen Year Old Looks Back on Life" at the Wayback Machine (archived December 14, 2000) in the magazine's April 23, 1972 issue. The article prompted a letter from J. D. Salinger, then 53 years old, who complimented her writing and warned her of the dangers of publicity.

Relationship with Salinger[edit]

They exchanged 25 letters, and Maynard dropped out of Yale the summer after her freshman year to live with Salinger in Cornish, New Hampshire.[5] Maynard spent ten months living in Salinger's Cornish home, during which time she completed work on her first book, Looking Back, a memoir that was published in 1973, in which she adhered to Salinger's request that she not mention his role in her life. Her relationship with Salinger ended abruptly just prior to the book's publication. According to Maynard's memoir, during a family vacation with her and with his two children from a previous marriage, Salinger mentioned that he did not want any more children. Maynard responded that she wanted some children of her own, at which point Salinger immediately ended the relationship. Maynard said she was devastated and begged him to take her back. Maynard never returned to college. In 1973, she used the proceeds from her first book to purchase a house on a large piece of land in Hillsborough, New Hampshire, where she lived alone for over two years. From 1973 until 1975, she contributed commentaries to a series called “Spectrum” that was broadcast on CBS radio. The feature also included the conservative voices of Phyllis Schlafly and James J. Kilpatrick, and of liberals such as Murray Kempton and Nicholas von Hoffman. Maynard was not included when the feature was adopted for television in a debate format as the "Point/Counterpoint" feature of 60 Minutes.

Maynard's relationship with Salinger left a lasting impression on her. “Fifteen minutes into our first date, Joyce kept referring to this guy named Jerry,” said a former boyfriend. “She was talking about ‘Jerry this’ and “Jerry that.’ It was as though they still knew each other. It took me a few minutes to figure out that the Jerry she was talking about was J.D. Salinger.” The former boyfriend continued, “Joyce is the most self-obsessed person I’ve ever met. She gives narcissism a bad name.”[6]

Later career[edit]

In 1975, Maynard joined the staff of The New York Times, where she worked as a general assignment reporter also contributing feature stories. She left The New York Times in 1977 when she married Steve Bethel and returned to New Hampshire, where the couple had three children, Audrey, Charlie and Wilson Bethel.

From 1984 to 1990, Maynard wrote the weekly syndicated column “Domestic Affairs”, in which she wrote candidly about marriage, parenthood and family life. She also served as a book reviewer and a columnist for Mademoiselle and Harrowsmith magazines. She published her first novel, Baby Love. This book used events in Hillsboro, NH in thinly veiled way. It caused consternation in town. There were two children's books illustrated by Bethel. In 1986 she co-led the opposition to the construction of the nation's first high-level nuclear waste dump in her home state of New Hampshire, a campaign she described in a New York Times cover story in April 1986.

When Maynard's own marriage ended in 1989—an event she explored in print—many newspapers dropped the “Domestic Affairs” column, though it was reinstated in a number of markets in response to reader protest. After her divorce, Maynard and her children moved to the city of Keene, New Hampshire.

Mature works[edit]

Maynard gained widespread commercial acceptance in 1992 with the publication of her novel To Die For which drew several elements from the real-life Pamela Smart murder case. It was adapted into a 1995 film of the same name starring Nicole Kidman, Matt Dillon, Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck and directed by Gus Van Sant. In the late 1990s, Maynard became one of the first authors to communicate daily with her readership by making use of the Internet and an online discussion forum, The Domestic Affairs Message Board (DAMB).

For many years, Maynard chose not to discuss her affair with Salinger in any of her writings, but she broke her silence in At Home In the World, a 1999 memoir. The same year, Maynard put up for auction the letters Salinger had written to her. In the ensuing controversy over her decision, Maynard claimed that she was forced to auction the letters for financial reasons, including the need to pay her children's college fees; she would have preferred to donate them to Beinecke Library. Software developer Peter Norton bought the letters for $156,500 and announced his intention to return them to Salinger.[7]

Maynard has subsequently published in several genres. Both The Usual Rules (2003) and The Cloud Chamber (2005) are young adult titles. Internal Combustion (2006), was her first in the true crime genre. Although nonfiction, it had thematic similarities to the fictionalized crime in To Die For, dealing with the case of Michigan resident Nancy Seaman, convicted of killing her husband in 2004. Labor Day, an adult literary novel, was published in 2009 and a film adaptation, written and directed by Jason Reitman, opened in limited release on December 27, 2013 with full release scheduled for January 31, 2014. Maynard's most recent novels are The Good Daughters, published in 2010, and After Her, in 2013.

Maynard and her sister Rona (also a writer and the retired editor of Chatelaine) collaborated in 2007 on an examination of their sisterhood. Rona Maynard's memoir My Mother's Daughter was published in the fall of 2007.

Recent years[edit]

Maynard has lived in Mill Valley, California, since 1996. She was an adjunct professor at the University of Southern Maine and now runs writing workshops at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.[8]

In February 2010, Maynard adopted two Ethiopian girls, Almaz (10) and Birtukan (7). In spring 2011, Maynard announced to friends and family that she no longer felt she could care for the girls.[9] She sent the girls to live with a family in Wyoming and, citing their privacy, removed all references to them from her website.[10][11][12]

On July 6, 2013, she married a lawyer, Jim Barringer.[13]

Selected works[edit]


  • Baby Love (1981)
  • To Die For (1992)
  • Where Love Goes (1995)
  • The Usual Rules (2003)
  • The Cloud Chamber (2005)
  • Labor Day (2009)
  • The Good Daughters (2010)
  • After Her (2013)

Non fiction[edit]

  • Looking Back (1973)
  • Domestic Affairs (1987)
  • At Home In The World (1998)
  • Internal Combustion (2006)
  • "A Good Girl Goes Bad" (2007), in Bad Girls: 26 Writers Misbehave, edited by Ellen Sussman.
  • "Your Friend Always" (2007), in Mr. Wrong: Real-Life Stories About the Men We Used to Love, edited by Harriet Brown.
  • "Someone Like Me, But Younger" (2009), in The Face in the Mirror: Writers Reflect on Their Dreams of Youth and the Reality of Age, edited by Victoria Zackheim.
  • "Straw into Gold" (2013) in Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting, edited by Ann Hood, published by W. W. Norton & Company.


  1. ^ "Fredelle Maynard: : Archives & Special Collections : Libraries : University of Manitoba". Retrieved February 14, 2014. 
  2. ^ "At Home in the World". Retrieved February 14, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Parenting – A Mother's Days: My Mother at Fifty". Retrieved February 14, 2014. 
  4. ^ "A Letter from Author Joyce Maynard". September 22, 2006. Retrieved February 14, 2014. 
  5. ^ Alexander, Paul (February 9, 1998). "J. D. Salinger’s Women". New York. Retrieved April 12, 2007. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Salinger letters bring $156,500 at auction". CNN. June 22, 1999. Retrieved April 12, 2007. 
  8. ^ [1] Archived January 15, 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Maynard, Joyce. "Letter from Joyce". Retrieved October 10, 2013. 
  10. ^ Dell'Antonia, KJ (April 4, 2012). "Joyce Maynard Announces Failure of her Adoptive Family". New York Times. Retrieved October 10, 2013. 
  11. ^ Mapes, Diane. "It Takes More Than Love: What Happens When Adoption Fails". Today. Retrieved October 10, 2013. 
  12. ^ "A Painful Decision to Give Up Two Adopted Children". Here and Now. WBUR. Retrieved October 10, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Just the Beginning of Their Growing Time". The New York Times. July 26, 2013. Retrieved February 14, 2014. 

External links[edit]