Marie Clay

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Dame Marie Clay

Marie Clay 1974.jpg
Clay in 1974
Marie Mildred Irwin

(1926-01-03)3 January 1926
Wellington, New Zealand
Died13 April 2007(2007-04-13) (aged 81)
Auckland, New Zealand
OccupationEducationist, researcher

Dame Marie Mildred Clay DBE FRSNZ (née Irwin; 3 January 1926 – 13 April 2007) was a distinguished researcher from New Zealand known for her work in global educational literacy. She was committed to the idea that children who struggle to learn to read and write can be helped with early intervention. A clinical psychologist, she developed the Reading Recovery intervention programme in New Zealand and expanded it worldwide.

Life and career[edit]

Marie Mildred Irwin was born in Wellington, New Zealand. She studied education at Victoria University College, graduating BA in 1947 and MA with second-class honours in 1949.[1] She also received a Diploma of Education from the same institution in 1948.[1] After studying clinical child psychology at the University of Minnesota as a Fulbright scholar, Clay received her PhD from the University of Auckland in 1966, where she had been on the faculty since 1960.[citation needed]

She developed the Reading Recovery intervention programme, which was adopted by all New Zealand schools in 1983. In 1985, teachers and researchers from Ohio State University brought Reading Recovery to the United States. Reading Recovery is an early intervention for at-risk students in grade one that is designed to close gaps within an average of 12–20 weeks. The programme is currently used in Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, including Department of Defense Schools. To date, Reading Recovery has played a role in the development of over 1.6 million readers in the United States alone.[2][3]

In 1982, Clay was inducted into the International Reading Association's Reading Hall of Fame. In the 1987 New Year Honours, she was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, for services to education.[4] In 1992, she was elected president of the International Reading Association and was the first non-North American to hold this position.[citation needed]

Her teachers' guidebook, Reading Recovery: Guidelines for Teachers in Training, has sold more than eight million copies worldwide. She died in Auckland, New Zealand at the age of 81 following a brief illness.[2]

Ohio State University[edit]

Faculty at Ohio State worked with Clay in the early 1980s and she served as a Distinguished Visiting Scholar there in 1984–85. The Ohio State University Board of Trustees approved the Marie Clay Endowed Chair in Reading Recovery and Early Literacy on 4 February 2005.[citation needed]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Reading: The patterning of complex behaviour. Auckland, New Zealand: Heinemann. (Other editions 1979, 1985)
  • Becoming Literate: The Construction of Inner Control (Heinemann, 1991)
  • Concepts About Print: What Have Children Learned About the Way We Print Language? (Heinemann, 2000)
  • Change Over Time in Children's Literacy Development (Heinemann, 2001)
  • By different paths to common outcomes. York, ME: Stenhouse, 1998.
  • Reading Recovery: A guidebook for teachers in training. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1993.
  • Literacy lessons designed for individuals part one: Why? When? And How? Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2005.
  • Literacy lessons designed for individuals part two: Teaching procedures. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2005.


  1. ^ a b "NZ university graduates 1870–1961: I–K". Shadows of Time. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  2. ^ a b Fox, Margalit (20 April 2007). "Marie M. Clay, Remedial Reading Specialist, Dies at 81". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 September 2008.
  3. ^ Reading Recovery Council of North America website; accessed 7 April 2014.
  4. ^ "No. 50766". The London Gazette (3rd supplement). 31 December 1986. p. 33.

External links[edit]