‘Late Starter’ Writes On Telecommunications, Famous Women

Seeking a wedding ring, Irish-Italian journalist happens upon a thriving literary career and becomes a Lady

Maddox, however, still felt out of place as an unmarried career woman in a world where the ultimate goal for a Radcliffe woman was to be a young wife.

She says she became frustrated when she couldn’t find another journalism job in the U.S., and at the same time felt inadequate for not having a husband.

She remembers applying for a public relations position at the large department store Filene’s, and being asked what she wanted to be doing in five years.

“The only answer was ‘married with children,’ but it was a catch-22, because if you said that, then why would they hire you?” she says.

Maddox never got the Filene’s job, and ended up moving in 1959 across the ocean to England to attend the London School of Economics.


The still-single Maddox felt London could be the antidote to her claustrophobic Boston world—both personally and professionally.

“I had seen London travelling one summer, and it seemed to me the kind of place where it was alright to be a woman and not be married,” she says. “And after all, as Samuel Johnson says, ‘Tired of London, tired of life.’”

Maddox remained in London, where she got married and eventually landed jobs at Reuters and The Economist, where she worked for about 20 years and became the House Affairs Editor.

As at the Quincy Patriot, she found the atmosphere more egalitarian than at most work places.

In fact, Maddox remembers The Economist as employing more women than most papers—although she admits that this was, in part, only possible because unlike most papers, The Economist does not use bylines, and thus could disguise the fact that half the articles were written by women.

She praises the field of journalism because “there was never any gender bar.”

Narrating the Road to Fame

Maddox’s literary agent in America, Ellen Levine, says that Maddox has a particular talent for “accessible writing—you don’t get a distance or chasm that you often get when writers are very serious about their revered biographical subjects.”

A prolific writer of articles, books and columns, Maddox is particularly fond of the genre of biography—“it’s better paid than journalism,” she says—and also writes numerous book review for The Washington Post, The Times and The Times Literary Supplement. “

“It’s the approach to writing that matters more than the subject,” she says. “I look for new things that would interest me and something that I could weave together in a new way—it doesn’t matter if it’s telecommunications or marriage.”