Daly, Maureen Patricia (1921–2006), journalist and novelist, was born 15 March 1921 in Castlecaulfield, Co. Tyrone, daughter of Joseph Daly (d. 1944), owner of a bicycle shop in Castlecaulfield, and his wife Margaret Mellon (née Kelly), who had been born in Glasgow to an Irish family. Distressed by the political turmoil and violence that accompanied the partition of Ireland (or, according to one source, because as a nationalist he was harassed by the authorities), Joe Daly emigrated to America in 1921. His wife and three daughters followed a year later; another daughter was born in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. The parents, especially the mother, pushed the four beautiful sisters to excel in school. Maureen, the third daughter, attended St Mary Springs Academy, a convent school in Fond du Lac; in 1937 her English teacher entered Maureen's short story 'Fifteen' in a competition in Scholastic magazine. It won a third prize; the next year, 'Sixteen', published when the author was 16, won first prize, was published in the magazine, and for many years afterwards was re-published in anthologies of writing for young people.
Maureen graduated with a BA in English and Latin from Rosary College, River Forest, Illinois, in 1942. She had been awarded a publisher's fellowship during her senior college year to complete her first novel, Seventeenth summer (1942). The book is widely regarded as the first 'young adult novel', written from the viewpoint of a teenager, rather than by a more sophisticated authorial voice. The delicacy and freshness of Daly's style evoked the shimmering intensity of almost innocent summer love; the novel broke new ground in its treatment of adolescent sexual relationships and in dealing realistically with the difficult decisions facing girls growing up during a time of sudden shifts away from previous norms of behaviour and expectation. Seventeenth summer had at least forty-six editions in hardcover, selling millions more in paperback editions still being published in the twenty-first century, and was translated into nine languages. While still at college, Daly was already writing a weekly column of advice for teenagers in the Chicago Tribune; a guide to etiquette and morality for teenagers appeared as Smarter and smoother in 1944. She also worked as a crime reporter and book reviewer for the Tribune. In 1944, aged 23, she became associate editor of Ladies' Home Journal, and also worked for the Saturday Evening Post, both very important magazines of the day.
At an event to mark her book's publication in 1942, Daly met William P. McGivern , an aspiring writer, when she autographed his copy of her book. He was drafted into the US army soon afterwards, but they kept in touch and married in the Holy Name cathedral, Chicago, on 28 December 1946. As freelance writers, the couple spent years travelling in Europe with their son and daughter, and lived for some time in Ireland and other countries, before returning to the United States in 1958 to live on a farm in Pennsylvania, and then, from the early 1970s, in Palm Desert, California. Daly wrote a number of travelogues for young people, and also adventure stories for children; her husband had a considerable reputation as a thriller and screenplay writer, and Daly worked with him on writing for television crime series such as Kojak in the 1970s.
In 1982, after her husband's death from cancer, Daly finished and published his last novel. Only a year later, her daughter, mother of two young sons, also died of cancer, and as a way of coming to terms with the loss, Daly wrote another novel for teenagers, Acts of love (1986), based on her daughter's character and high school romances. This book too was well reviewed, but a sequel, First a dream (1990), was not especially successful. Maureen Daly died in Palm Desert, California, on 25 September 2006, of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. She was survived by her son and by her younger sister Sheila.
Maureen's sister Marguerite ('Maggie') Daly (1916–92), was born in Castlecaulfield, and became a fashion model and organiser of fashion shows; she was also a journalist and gossip columnist and appeared regularly on television; her daughter Brigid Bazlen (1944–89), became a film and television actress. Another sister, Kathleen ('Kay') Daly (1919–75), also born in Castlecaulfield, was an advertising executive and responsible for several notable advertising campaigns; she was later vice-president of Revlon and said to be the highest-paid woman executive in the United States. The youngest sister, Sheila Daly, born in Wisconsin, wrote syndicated newspaper columns and worked in advertising. The Daly sisters were featured in an article in Life magazine on 7 November 1949, as one of the 'most successful sister acts in US business', together earning over $100,000 a year.