Mary Ann Shaffer Biography
Mary Ann Shaffer was born in Martinsburg, West Virginia, in
1934. Her career included libraries, bookstores, and publishing, but her
life-long dream was to "write a book that someone would like enough to publish."
Though she did not live to see it, this dream has been realized in The
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.
She became interested in Guernsey while visiting London in 1980. On a whim, she
decided to fly to Guernsey but became stranded there when a thick fog descended
and all boats and planes were forbidden to leave the island. As she waited for
the fog to lift, warming herself by the heat of the hand-dryer in the men's
restroom, she read all the books in the Guernsey airport bookstore, including
Jersey under the Jack-Boot. Thus began her fascination with the German
Occupation of the Channel Islands.
Many years later, when goaded by her book club to write a novel, Mary Ann
naturally thought of Guernsey. She chose to write in the epistolary form
because, "for some bizarre reason, I thought it would be easier." Several years
of work yielded The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society,
which was greeted with avid enthusiasm, first by her family, then by her writing
group, and finally by publishers around the world.
Sadly, Mary Ann's health began to decline shortly thereafter, and she asked her
niece, Annie Barrows (author of the Ivy and Bean series for children, as
well as The Magic Half), to help her finish the book. Mary Ann died in
February 2008, knowing that her novel was to be published in English and in
translation in many languages throughout the world.
This biography was last updated on 07/25/2008.
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