HarperCollins Speakers Bureau

Gayden Metcalfe

Best-Selling, Award-Winning Author and Doyenne of Southern Etiquette


  • Some Day You'll Thank Me for This: How to be the "Perfect" Mother
  • Being Dead Is No Excuse: How to Host the Perfect Funeral
  • Somebody Is Going to Die If Lilly Beth Doesn't Catch That Bouquet: How to Host the Perfect Wedding
  • Southern Etiquette to Handle Any Situation
  • The Art of Conversation: Southern Style



Gayden Metcalfe, along with co-author Charlotte Hays, has been dispensing official Southern etiquette and customs with a combination of charm, wit, and practical advice since the publication of their run-away best-seller Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies' Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral (Miramax/Hyperion). Part of the "Pastel Trilogy," Being Dead Is No Excuse was followed by Somebody Is Going to Die If Lilly Beth Doesn't Catch That Bouquet: The Official Southern Ladies' Guide to Hosting the Perfect Wedding (Hyperion), and the latest guide Some Day You'll Thank Me for This: The Official Southern Ladies' Guide to Being a "Perfect" Mother (Hyperion). An enviable cook and gifted raconteur, Metcalfe, along with Hays, has traveled the country as a keynote speaker at women's organizations, church groups, literary festivals, and to any group in need of knowing when to serve cheese straws, the do's and don'ts of condolence letters, and the proper response to anything unpleasant. Metcalfe and Hays can be booked together or separately, but it's always more gracious to invite them both to speak.

Some Day You'll Thank Me for This is a loving and cheeky compendium of motherhood, Southern style. As Hays and Metcalfe reveal, mothers who hail from below the Mason-Dixon Line have their own unique credo to which they adhere at all costs. The way they see it, their most important goals in life are to rear ladies and gentlemen, drill an intimate knowledge of the family tree into their progeny's heads, and make sure they pass on their silver to only the most deserving of their offspring. Their hilarious talk on the subject carefully outlines the lessons every Southern mother worth her salted pecans instills in her daughters - good manners, ancestor worship, family silver, the ability to completely ignore anything unpleasant (whether it's watching someone eat a salad with the wrong fork or a summons to appear in court), the importance of getting into the right sorority, and guilt.

Capturing all the essential elements of a Southern wedding - humorous and otherwise - Somebody Is Going to Die If Lilly Beth Doesn't Catch That Bouquet is one part Steel Magnolias, two parts Junior League cookbook, and a dash of "Bridezillas." With a combination of reverence and razor-sharp wit, Hays and Metcalfe skewer Delta wedding traditions and serve them up with a perfectly chilled slice of Grandma Millie's Tomato Aspic. Luckily for anyone with a wedding to plan, whether it's a tulle-strewn pageant or a surreptitious shotgun wedding, they reveal salient and previously un-written Southern mores.

Being Dead Is No Excuse, which was nominated for a Quill Award and won a Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) award, reveals the secrets to sending loved ones off with a bang - Delta style. Hays and Metcalfe offer a mixture of narrative flavored with must-serve foods, including three recipes for homemade mayonnaise and six recipes for pimento cheese (also known as Delta paté). After hearing them speak, audiences will understand why one Delta native, on being thanked for attending the funeral, blurted out, "No, thank you! I wouldn't have missed it for the world." A national best-seller, Being Dead outsells the Bible in the largest Episcopal bookstore in Texas.

A native of the Mississippi Delta, Metcalfe is one of the founders of the Greenville Arts Council, and has served as the vice president of the Delta Council and as publisher of Delta Wildlife magazine. Her mouth-watering recipe for Bourbon Pecan Pie earned her a guest appearance on the Food Network's Food Nation with Bobby Flay. She was born in Greenwood, MS (but only because the family doctor had moved there and her mother, Anne Gayden Call, couldn't bear the thought of changing doctors) and grew up in Greenville. During an expatriate phase, Metcalfe lived in Atlanta where she worked for Saks Fifth Avenue. She was a member of the Young Designers Board of Genesco. After returning to Mississippi, she married Harley Metcalfe III, a fourth generation cotton planter. She is the mother of two children, a son and a daughter. While they were growing up, she became a devoted homeroom mother and discovered that the secret to being a good mother is a full tank of gas.

Praise for Gayden Metcalfe:

"Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays gave a delightfully entertaining talk on Gracious Southern Hospitality to our Club membership. Their wit and humor were engaging as they had everyone laughing through stories of hosting funerals, planning weddings, and raising families (from their books). Ladies from all generations and locations will relate to the anecdotes in the books AND the recipes will make you hungry! We would highly recommend them for your next speaking engagement."
-- Sara Nunn, Women's Club of Salisbury Country Club

Praise for Being Dead is No Excuse:

"[It] is sure to have Southern hostesses nodding their perfectly coiffed heads in unison. Think of it as a primer from your favorite, if somewhat eccentric, aunt."
-- USA Today

"If you want a good laugh... pick up a copy of Being Dead Is No Excuse. And if you are a Southerner, you will laugh until the tears come."
-- Washington Post

"To die tastefully in the Delta, your mourners should dine well. To read Being Dead Is No Excuse is to participate vicariously in a succulent feast."
-- Hodding Carter

"As Southern as cheese straws, as peculiar as the Mississippi Delta, and as irreverent as the book's Crocheted-Bedpan-Award."
-- Curtis Wilkie, Author of Dixie: A Personal Odyssey Through the Events that Shaped the Modern South

"Most impressive about Being Dead Is No Excuse is its ability to go beyond being just another regional book of local color and appeal to those born outside the South."
-- BookPage

"[Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays] expose the culinary and cultural last rites of the deep South in a fashion that is as sidesplitting as it is politically incorrect, as sincere as it is backstabbingly brutal."
-- Publishers Weekly