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Daphne Joyce (Joyce) Maynard

Birthplace: Durham, Strafford County, New Hampshire, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Max Maynard and Fredelle Maynard
Widow of Jim Barringer
Ex-wife of Private
Ex-partner of J. D. Salinger
Mother of Audrey Bethel and Private
Sister of Private

Occupation: Writer, Novelist, Author
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Joyce Maynard

Daphne Joyce Maynard (born November 5, 1953) is an American author 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

Maynard grew up in Durham, New Hampshire, daughter of the Canadian painter Max Maynard and writer Fredelle Maynard. Her mother was Jewish (daughter of Russian-born immigrants) and her father was Christian. She 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" 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

They exchanged 25 letters, and Maynard dropped out of Yale the summer after her freshman year to live with Salinger in Cornish, New Hampshire. 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, he cut off the relationship suddenly while on a family vacation with her and with his two children; 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”, broadcast on CBS radio and television, frequently debating the conservative voices of Phyllis Schlafly and James J. Kilpatrick.

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.

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, and 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

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.

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 is presently being adapted for a film to be directed by Jason Reitman. Maynard's most recent novel is The Good Daughters, published in 2010.

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

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. She frequently performs as a storyteller with The Moth in New York City.

In January 2010, Maynard came into the spotlight when J. D. Salinger died aged 91. She chose not to comment to the press on the occasion of Salinger’s death. In the years since the publication of At Home in the World, other women have come forward detailing correspondence they had with Salinger when they were young[citation needed], causing a reassessment of earlier charges that Maynard had unfairly betrayed the writer’s privacy.

In January 2010, Joyce Maynard adopted six- and eleven-year-old sisters from Ethiopia, prompting Hanna Rosin to suggest in that she did so "because she is running out of material." On April 4, 2012, Maynard announced that she had relinquished adoption of the girls in April 2011, and no longer is in contact with them.

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


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Joyce Maynard's Timeline

November 5, 1953
Durham, Strafford County, New Hampshire, United States