Grey is a kind old man, who was supportive of Deirdre’s pursuit of her father and magiq. He was described by Deirdre as “a tall, handsome man who had to be somewhere north of 90. His hair was silver but impeccably groomed. He had a light in his eyes and a beautiful smile. All the anxiety, apprehension suddenly melted away. I felt at ease for some strange reason.”
Meredith Grey Ackerly, son of millionaire Reginald Ackerly, was born in New York City in 1916. As a child, Grey met his lifelong friend, Warner Green, who worked for his father’s company, Ackerly Printing House, as a bookbinder. While Grey attended college, Warner worked for the Ackerly family, eventually managing the printing house himself during the late 30s, under Grey’s father.
During World War II, Grey joined the Navy Reserve to please his father, who had done the same during World War I. Grey served with the New York Naval Militia before volunteering for active duty.
Home from the war in 1945, Warner learned that Reginald Ackerly, Grey’s father, had died and left him the reigns of the printing house, instead of Grey. Grey came back home to New York City, years later, listless and grim, and found his old friend feeling the same. Grey wanted to do something grand—a venture that would take him out the shadow of his father’s accomplishments. Warner would leave Ackerly Printing House, and he and Grey would build a new company from nearly nothing. Warner would run the creative aspects of the company, and Grey would be the business head. Ackerly Green Publishing’s doors opened in the fall of 1954.
Grey and Warner were equal partners, although they had differing views regarding what to publish. Grey wanted to follow the post-war culture—darker stories, in both tone and subject matter, serious literature, and social commentary. Warner, on the other hand, wanted to give people something to take them away from the horrors of the previous ten years. Ultimately, in the Book of Kings, Grey won and Ackerly Green would go on to publisher darker, thriller titles like The Wolf and the Wild and Through the Night.
Unfortunately, the company had little success. Their refusal to dive into the paperback pool didn’t help. They couldn’t get a foothold in the market. They refused to sacrifice quality, funneling their budget into a few talented authors, publishing a handful of books a year, hoping they could stay afloat until one of the books hit big. Another rumored cause for the failing business was that Grey, traumatized by the war and the death of his spiteful father, had become a violent alcoholic. Determined to build this company on his own, like his father before him, he refused to solicit outside help from his moneyed peers.
As the company struggled to survive, Warner distanced himself to take care of his wife and new child. Eventually, Warner struck a secret deal to go back to A&L Printing, leaving Grey behind. When Grey found out, it was the end of their friendship.
Grey was all but penniless and spiraling toward an early, alcohol-induced grave when he met Annaleigh Price and she, against her wealthy, pedigreed family’s wishes, married Grey the same year Ackerly Green Publishing finally closed its doors, in 1961. In 1962, the couple had a son named James Ackerly Price, the future heir to the Price fortune. Grey had managed to save himself from ruin and secure his future. His dreams would live on in James.
Grey died in 1981. His son, James, had one child, Reginald, who was stillborn. James died somewhere in France, in the early 90s.
In Deirdre Green’s blog post “Picking Up the Thread,” Cole and Deirdre came face to face with Grey after having been led to his apartment address by a thread in Aisling Green’s scarf. The trail led to room 717, on the 7th floor. The man at the other side of the door introduced himself as Grey Ackerly and invited them in to talk. Their conversation was recorded in the post “M. Grey Ackerly,” where Grey told the pair that Sullivan Green had come to him years ago and told him that the Ackerlys and Greens were connected to a vast conspiracy and that those who suspected it were in danger. Sullivan showed Grey something that made him believe in what he was saying. Grey explained that the apartment had been preserved at great cost, first to protect him and others in the families, then eventually Deirdre. So if she ever followed the path here, the path her father left her, the safe haven would be waiting. He pointed to the front door, where there were two locks. One was normal, and one was not. He said one simply locked the door, while the other one locked out the world.
Sullivan had visited Grey throughout the years, and Grey had hoped to be there for him, as penance for the way things had ended with Warner. Grey asked Sullivan to warn his son James, but he and Grey had a contemptuous relationship, and James wanted nothing to do with the Ackerlys or the Greens. Sullivan reassured him that he thought only those seeking the truth were in danger, and from what he knew, James led a normal life, untouched by magic. Grey asked if Deirdre knew what became of his son, but she told him she didn’t know, as she only half-remembered reading that he had died. Deirdre asked if Grey knew why people were out to get their families, and he said he assumed that it was about the Lost Collection. When asked what he remembered of the Lost Collection, he said that for most of his life, he only saw the path blazed by the choices he made. But now he could see other choices: Warner’s choices—choices he never allowed Warner to make, but somehow, somewhere, those choices were made. He said he didn’t remember the books, but he now remembered a hole where something used to fit, and as decades passed, that hole became the shape of the Lost Collection. He went on to tell Deirdre that his life had been consumed by poor decisions, but he hoped that in helping her, he could do something right. Grey gave Deirdre a box that her father had asked him to hold onto, which held the chronocompass, The Monarch Papers: Neithernor, and a note from Sullivan telling her that she had to go to Neithernor.
Deirdre left the apartment after unlocking the box and kept in contact with Grey over the phone. She saw the relationship as one last gift from her father. However, as Deirdre began exploring Neithernor, she briefly fell out of touch with him. Grey tried to contact her a few weeks later, so Deirdre went to visit him, but she ended up attracting the Storm to Grey’s apartment in the process. Deirdre was able to perform magiq in the apartment, which allowed her to send a message to Cole Sumner by sending her journal flying out the window along with the chronocompass. Grey remarked that she was truly a Green, and Deirdre and Cole were able to draw the Storm away from the apartment together.