Peter Mayle

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Peter Mayle
Born(1939-06-14)14 June 1939
Brighton, England
Died18 January 2018(2018-01-18) (aged 78)
Ménerbes, France
OccupationWriter (advertising, travel, children's non-fiction)
Known for Memoirs
Spouse(s)Jennie (third wife)
Children3 sons from first marriage
2 daughters from second

Peter Mayle ( /ml/ "mail"; 14 June 1939 – 18 January 2018) was a British businessman turned author who moved to France in the 1980s. He wrote a series of bestselling memoirs of his life there, beginning with A Year in Provence (1989).


Early life

Born in Brighton, Sussex, the youngest of three children, Mayle and his parents moved to Barbados in the aftermath of World War II, where his father was transferred as a Colonial Office employee. Mayle returned to England after leaving school at 16 in Barbados.

Advertising career

His first job in 1957 was as a trainee at Shell Oil, based in its London office. It was there that he discovered that he was more interested in advertising than oil and he wrote to David Ogilvy, the head of the advertising agency that had the Shell account at that time, asking for a job. Ogilvy offered him a job as a junior account executive, but Mayle's interest was more on the creative side of the business and he subsequently became a copywriter in 1961 based in its New York City office.

In due course another agency, Papert Koenig, Lois, poached him from Ogilvy and sent him back to London to head up the creative team in its UK office, where one of his colleagues was Alan Parker. When the US parent hit trouble in the mid-1960s, he and a colleague bought the London operation. They developed the business with accounts that included Watneys, Olivetti, and Sony and after five years, it was bought by BBDO, one of the top American agencies. He then commuted between the U.S. and the UK as its creative director.

A 1972 advertising slogan written by Mayle for Wonderloaf Bread was used as a football chant by supporters of Tottenham Hotspur, and became the basis of the song "Nice One Cyril".

By 1974, Mayle had had enough of advertising and transatlantic commuting, and quit the business to write full-time.


Mayle started off by writing educational books, including a series on sex education for children and young people. He also penned, in collaboration with illustrator Gray Jolliffe, a series of humorous books about the character Wicked Willie, based upon a personification of the male organ. He relocated from Devon to the Luberon, southern France, in the late 80s but his plans to write a novel were overtaken by an account of life in his new environment. This resulted in his 1989 book A Year in Provence which became an international bestseller, chronicling his first year as a British expatriate in Ménerbes, a village in the southern département Vaucluse.

Several more books followed, which have been translated in more than twenty languages. He also wrote for magazines and newspapers. A Year in Provence was subsequently produced as a TV series starring John Thaw and screened in 1993. The novel A Good Year was the basis for the 2006 film of the same name directed by Ridley Scott and starring actors Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard.

Mayle relocated to Amagansett on Long Island, New York, to get away from fans and sightseers at his home in Provence. [2] He subsequently returned to France and at the time of his death in 2018 resided in Vaugines, also situated in the Luberon, in Provence. He died in hospital near his home in January 2018. [3]


British Book Awards named A Year in Provence Best Travel Book of the Year (1989) [1] and him Author of the Year (1992). [4] The French government made him a Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honor) in 2002, for coopération et francophonie. [5]


Source: [1]


References and notes

  1. 1 2 3 "Peter Mayle". Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2009. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale, 2009. Entry updated: 02/21/2008. Fee. Accessed 2009-04-07 via Fairfax County Public Library. Document Number: H1000111948
  2. "Adieu, Provence". The Baltimore Sun. 25 June 1996. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  3. Genzlinger, Neil. "Peter Mayle, Who Wrote of "A Year in Provence", Is Dead at 78". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 January 2018.
  5. "Décret du 29 mars 2002 portant élévation, promotion et nomination". Le Journal officiel de la République française (Official Journal of the French Republic) (in French). Government of France. 31 March 2002. p. 5716. Retrieved 8 April 2009. Coopération et francophonie Etranger en France Au grade de chevalier M. Mayle (Peter) (Grande-Bretagne), écrivain ; 43 ans d'activités professionnelles et culturelles.

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