New Brunswick Author Portal

Mary  Grannan
Categories: Female AuthorsAnglophone AuthorsAuthors of Juvenile Fiction;Saint John River Valley

photo of author
Source: Irish Canadian Cultural Association of New Brunswick (ICCANB)


Mary Grannan was one of the most successful and popular Canadian writers of children’s stories. Born in Fredericton, New Brunswick, on February 11, 1900, she was the middle daughter of William Peter Grannan and Catherine Haney, and lived with her parents and two sisters in a house that still stands on Brunswick Street.

As an adult Mary began a career as a teacher in Minto and Devon schools. She used her quick wit and fascination with the world around her to create humorous stories with which to regale her friends, family, and students. She gained notoriety for her entertaining teaching style and love of storytelling. In 1935, Mary was approached by CFNB radio station in Fredericton to start telling her stories over the airwaves. Her shows, titled Just Mary and Maggie Muggins, were an instant hit, and led to a contract with CBC Radio. Mary moved to Toronto, Ontario in 1939 to head the children’s programming for CBC and to star in a national radio children’s show. In 1954 the adventures of carrot-haired Maggie Muggins and her friend Mr. McGarrity came to life via the growing world of television.

Mary continued to work for CBC, in both radio and television, until her retirement in 1962; by this time she had published 30 children’s books and written more than four thousand scripts for children’s entertainment. Her books attained international recognition and success, and were published in Canada, the United States, and England. In addition to Maggie Muggins her productions included The Children’s Scrapbook, The Land of Supposing, Sonnie and Susie, Kim and Katy, Jubilee Road, Digger Jones, Summer Days with Don and Debbie, Karen Discovers America, and of course, Just Mary – one of the best-selling series of all time.

Mary Grannan died in Fredericton, New Brunswick, on January 3, 1975.

How has New Brunswick influenced your work?

Mary on teaching at Devon Superior School in the town of Devon:

In school we always had devotional and then arithmetic, so when I began to teach I decided to have devotional, then a story, then arithmetic after; I thought it might make the day brighter. I read to the children from books that were available but there [weren’t] enough of them, so I decided to write my own.

I asked the pupils what they liked to hear about and so they wouldn’t copy, I got them to come up and whisper in my ear.

I also used experiences in my own childhood, my imagination and day by day incidents. Many of my pupils were the inspiration for my stories, and adults too.

Hume, Margaret Anne & Gwendolyn Davies. Just Mary : the life of Mary Evelyn Grannan. Toronto : Dundurn Group, 2006, p. 40.

Literary Prizes

Honorary Member of the International Mark Twain Society - 1951
Outstanding educational value and distinguished radio production by the Institute for Education by Radio at Ohio State University - 1950 In recognition of: Maggie Muggins
Beaver Award, for distinguished service to Canadian radio, from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. - 1947

Featured Publication

Just Mary Stories

I don’t believe this story myself but there are thousands who do. Mrs. Pepperpot, who lives in the white house at the edge of the pine grove, believes. She says she saw it all with her own eyes. Grandmother Wiffletree says it’s true, because she knew old Polly Petticoat well. And Mr. Jellybean, who keeps the candy shop in the lane, gets very angry at anyone who says it never happened. He says old Polly bought peppermint drops from him every day of the week except Saturday. On Saturday she bought cinnamon sticks. Well, in spite of Mrs. Pepperpot, Grandmother Whiffletree and Mr. Jellybean, I still don’t believe its old Polly Petticoat’s petticoats that give the rainbow its colours. I wonder if you will….I’ll tell you what I know and see.

From: "The Silliest Tale Ever Told"

Find this author in the New Brunswick public libraries catalogue.


  • Hume, Margaret Ann and Gwendolyn Davies (forward). Just Mary: the life of Mary Evelyn Grannan. Toronto: The Dundrun Group, 2006.
  • Cogswell, Frederick; Marguerite Maillet, and Nancy Miller Chénier. New Brunswick Authors/Écrivains du Nouveau-Brunswick. Ottawa: National Library of Canada, 1984.