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Writing Made Them Rich #5: Peter Mayle

Peter Mayle was born in England in 1939.

His fascination with France began at the age ofseventeen when, as the 'lowliest trainee' in Shell, hewas instructed to accompany his boss - a Mr. Jenkins -on a trip to Paris, and discovered that there was moreto life than fish-and-chips. Jenkins, needless to say,was a caricature of the Englishman abroad("personally, I never eat anything I can'tpronounce").

In his twenties he went to New York and becameadvertising copywriter for David Ogilvy. He laterreturned to England to a comfortable life inadvertising, with a salary higher than the PrimeMinister's.

At age 35, after 'one committee meeting too many', heleft his career as an advertising executive and movedwith his wife and children to Devon in the south ofEngland to write children's books.

In 1974 one of his books - 'Where Did I Come From' -became a best-seller, but because of an unfavorabledeal with the publisher, the book didn't make himwealthy.

In his late 40's Peter Mayle moved with his third wifeto Provence in the south of France, where theyrenovated an old farmhouse.

Their experiences became the subject for 'A Year inProvence' which was an instant success and spent threeyears on the New York Times best-seller list. It wastranslated into twenty languages and turned into a BBCseries.

'A Year in Provence' was followed by 'ToujoursProvence' and 'Encore Provence'.

But his new-found fame came at a cost. Hordes oftourists and reporters descended on Provence lookingfor the writer and his house.

Not realizing the book would become a best-seller,Peter Mayle had given an accurate description of thelocation of his house in the opening pages of 'A YearIn Provence'.

Plagued with unwanted visitors, and suddenly unpopularwith the locals, Peter Mayle fled with his wife to Long Island.

Four years later, when the hue and cry had died down,he returned to France and bought a large house nearAvignon.

Peter Mayle's success with the Provence books spawneda new genre in travel writing - books by Englishmenwho leave the cold wet island, set up house insunnier climes and then write about the curious habitsof the locals. There's even a phrase for it: "Doing aPeter Mayle".

You can get your copy of 'A Year in Provence' at:

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