Madeleine Masson

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Madeleine Masson [1] (1912-2007) was a South African-born playwright, novelist and journalist.

Also known as Madeleine Masson Rayner

She also wrote biographies, short stories, radio plays, some as "Starr", "Marion Holmes" or "M. Rayner".


She was born Madeleine Levy in Johannesburg in 1912, and was educated there. Her father was a French banker, Emile Levy, and her mother Lili a Viennese. On a trip to Paris with her parents, 18-year-old Madeleine met 40-year-old Baron Renaud Marie de la Minaudière and married him. (She took her surname "Masson" from one of her first husband's subsidiary titles.)

After she left him she livid in Paris and studied at the Sorbonne in Paris, where she obtained a PhD in Philosophy, and mingled with the artistic crowd. With the outbreak of the World War 2 she became involved with the French resistance and ultimately returned to South Africa, where she lived until 1952, and was a columnist for the Cape Times until 1951.

In this period she married Captain John Rayner and had a son. They were married for 32 years, moving back to the UK, to settle at the family home in Bosham, West Sussex, England, where Masson started an early public relations firm and continued writing plays, film scripts, novels, memoirs, biographies.

Contribution to theatre, film, media and/or performance

She wrote the plays Bitter Aloes (1945), Miranda (1945), Fantasia in Three (1944), The Heir (1945), Home is the Hero (1944), Passport to Limbo (1942), Puppet's Party (1941), Servant of God (1943), Tropicana (1939, a play in French), Fossil's Secret, In Our Veins (under the nom de plume 'Starr'), People of Quality (under the nom de plume 'Marion Holmes'), Hearts and Flowers (with Ralph Roney), Mask of Youth, Seed for Freedom, No Room for Martyrs, The Flowering Wilderness, The Twain, Audrey, The Black Swan, Cry Haro, Villa Poetica, The Bronte Enigma, Chekmate, Gilded Lilies, Incident at Aasvoel's Kop, The Enigma of George Sands.

Wrote one film Servant of God (retitled Maddalena). Golden Laurel Award as best film at Edinburgh Festival, 19**.


The Star, 28 December 2004.

NELM [Collection: MASSON, Madeleine]: 1998. 75. 286.

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