Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ross Macdonald, Author Biographies

Ross Macdonald is the pseudonym for Kenneth Millar. He was born on December 13, 1915 in Los Gatos California. His father, John Macdonald Millar, was a sometimes newspaper editor, poet and athlete, and his mother, Anne (Moyer) Millar, was a nurse. Sometime after moving the family to Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, when Ross was about four years old, his father abandoned the family.

While he was growing up, Ross and his mother lived off and on with various relatives. Ross, even though academically inclined, was a troubled youth. He drank and smoked too much, fought with classmates, was a petty thief and enjoyed the pool hall and gambling.

Ross’s father left an insurance policy that was enough to see him through four years at the University of Western Ontario where he obtained a teaching certificate. He also attended the University of Toronto for a year. He received an assistant teaching post at the University of Michigan where he also finished his schooling. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a PHD in Literature.

Ross Macdonald met Margaret Sturm, another aspiring author, while in high school. They reconnected and married in 1938. Their only daughter, Linda, died in 1970.

Ross joined the U.S Navy during WWII and was stationed in the Pacific off the coast of southern California. When Margaret came to visit him, she fell in love with the area and made the beautiful seaside town of Santa Barbara their home.

Ross Macdonald places his protagonist, the philosophic rough edged private detective, Lew Archer, in Santa Barbara, but changed the name to Santa Theresa. Many years later another mystery writer, Sue Grafton, did the same thing with her character, female private detective Kinsey Millhone. Sue Grafton wrote an introduction for the book, "Ross Macdonald, a Biography," by Tom Nolan.

Ross started his writing career under his given name. His wife was to become prominent as a suspense writer under the name Margaret Millar, so he started writing under the name John Ross Macdonald. Later he shortened it to Ross Macdonald because of possible confusion with another author, John D. Macdonald.

Although Ross earned good reviews throughout his writing career, it wasn’t until the publishing of “The Goodbye Look” in 1969 that he became a best selling author in the United States as well as in Europe. In 1973 The Mystery Writers of America named him Grand Master.

In 1981, Ross Macdonald was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He died in Santa Barbara on July 11, 1983.

Books by Ross Macdonald:

Series: Chet Gordon (as Kenneth Millar)
The Dark Tunnel (1944)
Trouble Follows Me (1946)

Lew Archer
The Moving Target (1949)
The Drowning Pool (1950)
The Way Some People Die (1951)
The Ivory Grin (1952)
Find a Victim (1954)
The Barbarous Coast (1956)
The Doomsters (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) (1958)
The Wycherly Woman (1961)
The Zebra-Striped Hearse (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) (1962)
The Chill (1964)
The Far Side of the Dollar (1965)
Black Money (1966)
The Instant Enemy (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) (1968)
The Goodbye Look (1969)
(The Underground Man (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) (1971)
Sleeping Beauty (1973)
The Name is Archer (1955)
Archer in Hollywood (omnibus) (1967)
Lew Archer, Private Investigator 1977)

Archer at Large (1970)
The Lew Archer Volume One (1993)
The Lew Archer Volume Two (1994)
The Lew Archer Volume Three (1997)
Stand Alone Novels:
Blue City (1947) (As Kenneth Millar)
The Three Roads (1948)
Meet Me at the Morgue (1954)
The Ferguson Affair (1960)
Archer in Jeopardy (1979)

Strangers in Town: Three Newly Discovered Mysteries (2001)

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