Mary Hayward Weir

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Mary Hayward Weir, born Mary Emma Hayward (1915–1968), was an American steel heiress and socialite. She was the wealthy widow of Pittsburgh steel king Ernest T. Weir, and the former wife of Polish author Jerzy Kosiński. The Mary H. Weir Public Library in Weirton, West Virginia, is named after her.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, she was working as a secretary for the National Steel Corporation in 1941 when she met and later married her boss, Chairman and CEO Ernest T. Weir.[2] She divorced her first husband, Donald Reeve, to marry Weir. Ernest was 40 years her senior and was recently divorced with two grown sons roughly Mary's age.[2]

Mary Hayward and Ernest T. Weir were married on December 11, 1941,[2][3] and together had one son, David Weir, born in 1944.[4] She was widowed in 1957 when her husband died at the age of 81.[5]

On January 11, 1962, she married the Polish author Jerzy Kosiński after a romance of 18 months. Kosiński had emigrated from Poland in December 1957 to the United States.[6] Weir and Kosinski met in the summer of 1960 in New York City, when the heiress hired the young Kosiński to catalogue her private library. Weir was a close friend of coffee heiress Abigail Folger, of the Folgers Coffee family, and it was through her husband Jerzy Kosiński that Folger met her future boyfriend Wojciech Frykowski (Folger and Frykowski were murdered in 1969 by the Manson Family). In 1966, Weir divorced Kosiński, but she still remained a close friend.

Weir was known for both her never ending volunteer work in many different areas, as well as her extensive travels around the world. She was also known to have battled many serious bouts of depression beginning as far back as 1950, and at times suffered from blackouts as a result of this. She also struggled with alcoholism for years.

Cultural references[edit]

On June 2, 1958 in Weirton, West Virginia, a public library called "The Mary H. Weir Public Library" was named in her honor with Weir cutting the ribbon in person.

In 1965, Kosiński dedicated his novel The Painted Bird to her, and it was at this time that she began to feel ill. Kosinski fictionalized his marriage to Mary Hayward Weir in his 1977 novel Blind Date referring to her under the pseudonym Mary–Jane Kirkland.[6]


Mary Hayward Weir was diagnosed with a brain tumour, of which she died on August 1, 1968, aged 52 or 53.[6] She left Kosiński nothing in her will.[6]


  1. ^ Dickson, Angela. "E.T. Weir to Be Inducted Into Hall of Fame." Weirton Daily News. March 14, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c Sloan, James Park (1996). Jerzy Kosinski: A Biography (1 ed.). Dutton Books. p. 144. ISBN 0-525-93784-6. 
  3. ^ "National Steel Chairman and Bride." New York Times. December 12, 1941.
  4. ^ "Ernest T. Weir Dies." New York Times. June 27, 1957.
  5. ^ "Ernest T. Weir Dies At 81." Wall Street Journal. June 27, 1957.
  6. ^ a b c d Chambers, Andrea. "Because He Writes from Life—his—sex and Violence Haunt Jerzy Kosiński's Fiction". People. Retrieved April 19, 2012.