Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Greig, Maysie Coucher (1901–1971)

by Martha Rutledge

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

Maysie Coucher Greig (1901-1971), romantic novelist, was born on 2 August 1901 at Double Bay, Sydney, daughter of Dr Robert Greig Smith, a bacteriologist from Edinburgh, and his English-born wife Mary, née Thomson. Educated at Presbyterian Ladies' College, Pymble, Maysie joined the staff of the Sun in 1919 before sailing for England in the following year. She was employed by Manchester evening newspapers and by October 1922 had a column, 'The Woman's View' (later 'Through the Eyes of a Woman'), in the salacious Empire News. Her first serial was accepted by the Daily Sketch.

At the parish church, Painswick, Gloucestershire, on 14 July 1923 Maysie Greig-Smith married Ernest Roscoe Baltzell, an American Rhodes scholar whom she accompanied to New York. She worked at Boston where, as Maysie Greig, she published her first novels, Peggy of Beacon Hill (1924) and The Luxury Husband (1927); both were filmed at Hollywood. Her marriage ended in divorce in 1929. While living at Greenwich Village, New York, she married a writer Delano Ames; they, too, were to be divorced (1937). After spending four years travelling, especially to such 'strange and little known countries' as Yugoslavia and Albania, they settled in England, with a home in London and another, Yew Tree House, in the village of St Mary Bourne, Hampshire. Wherever they stayed, Maysie managed to 'inveigle the best recipes from the cook' and often made Hungarian and Albanian dishes. Golden haired, blue eyed and ravishingly attractive, she rode and played tennis. By 1934 she was the most prolific woman novelist of the day. She published up to six books a year (mostly with Collins in England and Doubleday in New York), often set in the exotic places that she had visited; she also wrote thrillers as 'Jennifer Ames', and occasionally used 'Ann Barclay' and 'Mary Douglas Warren' as pseudonyms.

On 3 May 1937 at the Municipal Building, Manhattan, New York, Maysie married Maxwell Alexander Murray (1900-1956), an Australian-born journalist; they returned to England where the birth of their child in 1940 did not interrupt Maysie's flow of novels. In 1948 the family settled in Sydney and Maysie added a house at Vaucluse to her other residences. Working some six hours a day with a dictaphone, she continued to produce four books a year and looked on serial rights as a pleasant extra. Some of her later novels had Australian settings, including One Room for His Highness (1947), French Girl in Love (1963) and Doctor on Wings (1966). Max wrote detective stories which were serialized in the American Saturday Evening Post; The Right Honourable Corpse (New York, 1951) was set in Canberra.

Listing her recreations as tennis, bridge and literary associations, Greig was president (until 1966) of the Sydney centre of International P.E.N.; she revived the group, and attended conferences in Tokyo (1957) and at Bled, Yugoslavia (1965). She also belonged to the Society of Women Writers of New South Wales, the Fellowship of Australian Writers and the Romantic Novelists' Association (England). On 22 June 1959 at the registrar general's office, Sydney, Maysie married Jan Sopoushek, a printer from Budapest and a widower. She sold her Vaucluse home in 1966 and thereafter lived in London. Survived by her husband and by the son of her third marriage, she died of an embolism on 10 June 1971 in a nursing home at St Marylebone.

Maysie Greig flung 'her own vivid personality', humour and enthusiasm into telling a good story. Heeding Delamore McCay's advice to 'write every sentence as though I were to cable it to England at my own expense', she wrote over 220 novels with an unusual economy of words. She invariably gave her stories happy endings 'because I believe that happiness is the greatest virtue in the world and misery the greatest sin'. For forty years her books were best sellers on both sides of the Atlantic. Her novels were translated into French, Dutch, Portuguese, Swedish and Icelandic.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Vinson (ed), Twentieth-Century Romance and Gothic Writers (Lond, 1982)
  • L. Henderson (ed), Twentieth-Century Romance and Historical Writers (Lond, 1990)
  • Home (Sydney), 20 Nov 1948, p 15
  • Newspaper News (Sydney), 2 Jan 1950, p 11
  • Observer (Sydney), 18 Feb 1961, p 9
  • Star (Melbourne), 28 May 1934
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 24 Mar 1955, 3 Oct 1957, 27 July 1958, 12 June 1971
  • Sun-Herald (Sydney), 21 June 1959, 19 Dec 1965
  • Herald (Melbourne), 10 Jan 1966.

Citation details

Martha Rutledge, 'Greig, Maysie Coucher (1901–1971)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/greig-maysie-coucher-10364/text18357, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 1 October 2016.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2016

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Baltzell, Maysie
  • Ames, Maysie
  • Ames, Jennifer
  • Barclay, Ann
  • Warren, Mary Douglas
  • Murray, Maysie
  • Sopoushek, Maysie
  • Smith, Maysie
Birth

2 August 1901
Double Bay, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Death

10 June 1971
London, Middlesex, England

Cultural Heritage
Religious Influence
Occupation