John P. Marquand

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John P. Marquand
John P. Marquand.jpg
BornJohn Phillips Marquand
(1893-11-10)November 10, 1893
Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.
DiedJuly 16, 1960(1960-07-16) (aged 66)
Newburyport, Massachusetts, U.S.
Resting placeSawyer Hill Burying Ground
Pen nameJ.P. Marquand
Education Newburyport High School
Alma mater Harvard University
Christina Sedgwick
(m. 1922;div. 1935)

Adelaide Hooker
(m. 1937;div. 1958)

John Phillips Marquand (November 10, 1893 – July 16, 1960) was an American writer. Originally best known for his Mr. Moto spy stories, he achieved popular success and critical respect for his satirical novels, winning a Pulitzer Prize for The Late George Apley in 1938. [1] One of his abiding themes was the confining nature of life in America's upper class and among those who aspired to join it. Marquand treated those whose lives were bound by these unwritten codes with a characteristic mix of respect and satire.

Mr. Moto fictional Japanese secret agent created by John P. Marquand

Mr. Moto is a fictional Japanese secret agent created by the American author John P. Marquand. He appeared in six novels by Marquand published between 1935 and 1957. Marquand initially created the character for the Saturday Evening Post, which was seeking stories with an Asian hero after the death of Charlie Chan's creator Earl Derr Biggers.

<i>The Late George Apley</i> book by John P. Marquand

The Late George Apley is a 1937 novel by John Phillips Marquand. It is a satire of Boston's upper class. The title character is a Harvard-educated WASP living on Beacon Hill in downtown Boston. It's an epistolary novel, made up mostly of letters to and from the title character.

Satire Genre of arts and literature in the form of humor or ridicule

Satire is a genre of literature, and sometimes graphic and performing arts, in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, corporations, government, or society itself into improvement. Although satire is usually meant to be humorous, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit to draw attention to both particular and wider issues in society.


Youth and early adulthood

Marquand was the son of Philip Marquand and his wife Margaret née Fuller, he was a scion of an old Newburyport, Massachusetts, family. He was a great-nephew of 19th-century writer Margaret Fuller and a cousin of Buckminster Fuller, who gained fame in the 20th century as the inventor of the geodesic dome. Marquand was born in Wilmington, Delaware, and grew up in the New York suburbs. When financial reverses broke up the family's comfortable household, he was sent to Newburyport, Massachusetts, where he was raised by his eccentric aunts, who lived in a crumbling Federal Period mansion surrounded by remnants of the family's vanished glory. (Marquand's ancestors had been successful merchants in the Revolutionary period; Margaret Fuller and other aunts had been actively involved with the Transcendentalist and abolitionist movements.)

Newburyport, Massachusetts City in Massachusetts, United States

Newburyport is a small coastal, scenic, and historic city in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States, 35 miles (56 km) northeast of Boston. The population was 17,416 at the 2010 census. A historic seaport with a vibrant tourism industry, Newburyport includes part of Plum Island. The mooring, winter storage and maintenance of recreational boats, motor and sail, still contribute a large part of the city's income. A Coast Guard station oversees boating activity, especially in the sometimes dangerous tidal currents of the Merrimack River.

Margaret Fuller American feminist, poet, author, and activist

Sarah Margaret Fuller Ossoli, commonly known as Margaret Fuller, was an American journalist, editor, critic, and women's rights advocate associated with the American transcendentalism movement. She was the first full-time American female book reviewer in journalism. Her book Woman in the Nineteenth Century is considered the first major feminist work in the United States.

Buckminster Fuller American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor and futurist

Richard Buckminster Fuller was an American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor and futurist. Fuller published more than 30 books, coining or popularizing terms such as "Spaceship Earth", "Dymaxion" house/car, ephemeralization, synergetic, and "tensegrity". He also developed numerous inventions, mainly architectural designs, and popularized the widely known geodesic dome. Carbon molecules known as fullerenes were later named by scientists for their structural and mathematical resemblance to geodesic spheres.

Marquand attended Newburyport High School, where he won a scholarship that enabled him to attend Harvard College. As an impecunious public school graduate in the heyday of Harvard's Gold Coast, he was an unclubbable outsider. Though turned down by the college newspaper, the Harvard Crimson , Marquand succeeded in being elected to the editorial board of the humor magazine, the Harvard Lampoon . After graduating in 1915, Marquand was hired by The Boston Evening Transcript , working initially as a reporter and later on the Transcript's bi-weekly magazine section. [2]

Newburyport High School

Newburyport High School (NHS) is a public high school serving students in ninth through twelfth grades in Newburyport, Massachusetts and is part of the Newburyport Public School System. It was established in 1831 and is one of the oldest public schools in the United States of America.

Harvard College main undergraduate school of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Harvard College is the undergraduate liberal arts college of Harvard University. Founded in 1636 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and one of the most prestigious in the world.

Harvard Crimson intercollegiate sports teams of Harvard University

The Harvard Crimson are the athletic teams of Harvard University. The school's teams compete in NCAA Division I. As of 2013, there were 42 Division I intercollegiate varsity sports teams for women and men at Harvard, more than at any other NCAA Division I college in the country. Like the other Ivy League universities, Harvard does not offer athletic scholarships.

While he was a student at Harvard, Marquand joined Battery A of the Massachusetts National Guard, which, in 1916, was activated. In July 1916, Marquand was sent to the Mexican border. [2] Later, like many of his classmates, he served in the First World War, seeing action in France.

Massachusetts National Guard Part-time armed forces of Massachusetts

The Massachusetts National Guard was founded as the Massachusetts Bay Colonial Militia on December 13, 1636, and contains the oldest units in the United States Army. It is currently headquartered at Hanscom Air Force Base and commanded by Major General Gary W. Keefe. Massachusetts National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are trained and equipped as part of the United States Army and Air Force, identical ranks and insignias are utilized. National Guardsmen are eligible for all US military awards in addition to state awards. Soldiers and Airmen are held to the same uniform, physical fitness, and marksmanship standards as their Active Duty counterparts.

Life and work

Mrs. Alexander Sedgwick and Daughter Christina, 1902, by Cecilia Beaux Mrs. Alexander Sedgwick and Daughter Christina by Cecilia Beaux.jpg
Mrs. Alexander Sedgwick and Daughter Christina, 1902, by Cecilia Beaux

Marquand's life and work reflected his ambivalence about American society — and, in particular, the power of its old-line elites. Being rebuffed by fashionable Harvard did not discourage his social aspirations. In 1922, he married Christina Sedgwick, niece of The Atlantic Monthly editor Ellery Sedgwick. In 1925, Marquand published his first important book, Lord Timothy Dexter, an exploration of the life and legend of eighteenth-century Newburyport eccentric Timothy Dexter (1763–1806).

Ellery Sedgwick was an American editor, brother of Henry Dwight Sedgwick.

By the mid-1930s he was a prolific and successful writer of fiction for slick magazines like the Saturday Evening Post . Some of these short stories were of an historical nature as had been Marquand's first two novels (The Unspeakable Gentleman and The Black Cargo). These would later be characterized by Marquand as “costume fiction”, of which he stated that an author “can only approximate (his characters) provided he has been steeped in the (relevant) tradition”. [3] Marquand had abandoned “costume fiction” by the mid-1930s.

In the late 1930s, Marquand began producing a series of novels on the dilemmas of class, most centered on New England. The first of these, The Late George Apley (1937), a satire of Boston's upper class, won the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel in 1938. Other Marquand novels exploring New England and class themes include Wickford Point (1939), H.M. Pulham, Esquire (1941), and Point of No Return (1949). The last is especially notable for its satirical portrayal of Harvard anthropologist W. Lloyd Warner, whose Yankee City study attempted (and in Marquand's view, dismally failed) to describe and analyze the manners and mores of Marquand's Newburyport.

Marquand was a part-time war correspondent during World War II. The war's huge effect on American individuals and families is often an element in his later novels. Several characters in these novels are motivated by a sense of duty to aid the war effort, though they are past draft age and even unsure of the value of their contribution.

For all of his ambivalence about America's elite, Marquand ultimately succeeded not only in joining it, but in embodying its characteristics. He forgave the upper crust classmates who had snubbed him in college (relationships he satirized in H.M. Pulham, Esq and The Late George Apley ). He was invited to join all the right social clubs in Boston (Tavern, Somerset) and New York (Century Association, University). Through his second marriage to Adelaide Ferry Hooker, he became linked to the Rockefeller family (her sister, Blanchette, was married to John D. Rockefeller III). He maintained luxury homes in Newburyport and in the Caribbean.

Personal life

Marquand was married twice and had five children. He married Christina Sedgwick in 1922 with whom he had two children: son John Jr and a daughter Christina Jr. Marquand and Sedgwick divorced in 1935. [4] The following year, Marquand married Adelaide Ferry Hooker, a descendant of Thomas Hooker. [5] They had three children together, two sons and a daughter, before divorcing in 1958. [6]


On July 16, 1960, Marquand died in Newburyport, Massachusetts of a heart attack in his sleep at the age of 66. [6] He is buried in Sawyer Hill Burying Ground in Newburyport. [7]

Before gaining acclaim for his serious novels, Marquand achieved great popular and commercial success with a series of formulaic spy novels about a Japanese undercover operative called Mr. Moto. The first, Your Turn, Mr. Moto appeared in 1935; the last, Right You Are, Mr. Moto, in 1957. The series inspired eight films in the 1930s starring Peter Lorre, but these movies are only very loosely based on the novels.

James S. Koga states that Moto is not a proper Japanese surname (an observation also made by some characters in the Moto novels, who suspect that the name is an alias). Koga notes that "[Mr. Moto] is never the protagonist of the story — rather he appears at strategic points in the story, a catalyst for action." "The typical storyline", he says, "involves an American male, somewhat tarnished by past experiences in the U.S., who finds himself in the Orient ... overwhelmed by the foreignness of Asia. This protagonist gets involved in some international intrigue by happenstance, usually coinciding with meeting Mr. Moto ... falls deeper into the plot and then finds himself in deadly peril. Along the way, he meets an attractive American woman who also becomes entangled, and by resourcefulness (and not a little help from Mr. Moto) overcomes the peril and then gets the girl."

Numerous Marquand novels became Hollywood films, but several bore little resemblance to the books. Mr. Moto, an often ruthless spy in Marquand's novels, became a genial police agent in the Peter Lorre films of the 1930s. The final Mr. Moto novel, in the 1950s, was filmed as a spy story, but Moto's character was eliminated.

Marquand's 1951 novel, Melville Goodwin, USA, was adapted into the 1957 film Top-Secret Affair , starring Susan Hayward and Kirk Douglas. The book was a satire about publicists trying to cover up a general's adultery, but the movie writers transformed the general into a bachelor. According to Marquand's biographers, he took such Hollywood liberties in stride.

In his later years, Marquand contributed an occasional satiric short story to Sports Illustrated . A collection was later published as a book, with the title Life at Happy Knoll. The stories humorously dealt with the problems of an "old-line" country club as it tried to adjust to changing times and a competing "upstart" country club nearby.

John Phillips Marquand, Jr. (1924 - 1995) followed in his father's footsteps, using the pseudonym John Phillips, with the best-selling 1953 novel The Second Happiest Day. [8] [9]


Mr Moto novels

Other crime novels

Literary novels

Collections of short stories [10]


  1. "1938 Winners". The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  2. 1 2 Holman, C. Hugh (1965), John P. Marquand, Minneapolis, Minnesota: U of Minnesota Press, p. 10, ISBN   0-8166-0350-2
  3. John P. Marquand (1954), Thirty Years, p. 281.
  4. Hamburger, Phillip (April 5, 1952). "Profile: There's No Place". The New Yorker. New York City, New York: Condé Nast. 28 (1416): 43–44. ISSN   0028-792X. OCLC   320541675 . Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  5. "Adelaide Ferry Hooker will become bride of John Phillips Marquand, noted author". The New York Times. February 26, 1937. p. 5A. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  6. 1 2 "Guide to the John P. Marquand Collection YCAL MSS 48". Yale University Library. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  7. Wilson, Scott (2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, (3 ed.). McFarland. p. 479. ISBN   1-476-62599-9.
  8. Jonathan Yardley (2009), Second Reading: John Phillips's "The Second Happiest Day", Washington Post, December 23.
  9. "John Phillips, Author and Editor, 71". The New York Times. May 8, 1995.
  10. Do Tell Me, Doctor Johnson was privately printed in small numbers, 1928 (one story, 47 pages). A search of the Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature indicates that Marquand had 111 short stories published in various magazines (mostly in the Saturday Evening Post) from 1921 through 1947, of which 18 appear in Four of a Kind, Haven's End and Thirty Years (along with nil, three and five new stories, resp.).

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