Mari (short for Marilynn)… Zipes (Ukrainian maiden name – rhymes with Yipes!)…Wallace (as in Braveheart) was born in White Plains Hospital, Westchester County, New York State. She spent her entire childhood in the idyllic town of Pleasantville, New York, home of the Reader’s Digest (where her mother worked for almost 22 years). She sang in all the choirs, went to both the Junior and Senior Proms with teased hair, read profusely and was the Literary Editor of the high school year book, The Green Quill.
Mari fell in love with England…
She studied English at the University of Rochester (with a bit of French and History of Art on the side) but it was spending her Junior Year Abroad in Nottingham, England, that proved to be the turning point in her life. Mari fell in love with England (and a dashing young man in the Royal Navy) and was determined to return. She attained her M.A. in English and Dramatic Literature at New York University, and subsequently moved into New York City. There she became a double addict: to the dubious joys of the New York Times crossword puzzle and the wallet–depleting Broadway theatre.
She spent 4+ years at Scholastic Magazines as the picture researcher for ‘Art & Man’ and was ultimately the chief picture researcher for the audiovisual division – and a member of the Newspaper Guild of New York and the American Society of Picture Professionals. But England kept singing its siren song and Mari could resist no longer. Thanks to London educational publisher, Edward Arnold, she managed to get a work permit into her hot little hands which led to other picture-related work – for Mitchell Beazley (working on books for Terence Conran and Hugh Johnson), Marshall Cavendish (partworks and Americanising texts) and Reader’s Digest books to name a few. She joined the National Union of Journalists…and co-created the Society of Picture Researchers and Editors, SPREd. Her membership number was 002. She doesn’t remember who got 007.
She fell in love again, this time with the English countryside…
Mari met and married a true Brit who moved her to deepest Sussex where she fell in love again, this time with the English countryside. Her adventures and misadventures while adjusting to a rural environment have provided entertainment value for readers of ‘Countryfile’ magazine for over a year.
Since becoming a country wife and learning how to shovel manure, she has also trod the boards with a Gilbert & Sullivan Society, revitalised her rusty French and ten words of German as a member of a local Twinning Association, and honed her writing skills while doing some productive networking, thanks to the Society of Women Writers and Journalists.
Oh yes – she also spent a number of years teaching English to the English (they needed it) at an independent girls’ school where she sang in the school’s musical productions, took girls to the theatre, the opera and art museums, and ended up as the school’s marketing director.
Theatre is still an abiding interest and Mari drags her other half to plays in London, Surrey, Hampshire, West Sussex…and the U.S. She has kept the programmes of virtually everything she’s seen since age 18, and hopes her daughter will make a fortune in selling the programmes after she ‘shuffles off this mortal coil’. Speaking of Shakespeare (as per the previous quote), Mari admits to being a Shakespeare groupie and quotes the Bard at every opportunity. And so, if you have ploughed through this unorthodox biography, let the man from Stratford-on-Avon voice his appreciation on Mari’s behalf: ‘I can no other answer make but thanks, and thanks, and ever thanks…’