Margaret Millar was born Margaret Ellis Sturm on February 5, 1915, in Kitchner, Ontario. She was educated there and in Toronto where she studied the classics.
Margaret met Kenneth Millar, another aspiring writer, while in high school. They reconnected In college and married in 1938. Their only daughter, Linda, died in 1970.
Margaret said she began publishing under her married name, Margaret Millar, because of the title of her first book (Worm, Sturm). While she was to become a prominent suspense writer, her books were never big sellers. She was a very private person and abhorred interviews.
After Margaret’s husband published a couple of books under his own name, he changed to the pseudonym, John Ross Macdonald then to
Margaret’s husband 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 they made the beautiful seaside town of Santa Barbara their home.
Santa Barbara shows up consistently in Margaret’s books, but is often named San Felicia or San Felice. Many years later another prominent mystery writer, Sue Grafton, did the same thing with her character, female private detective Kinsey Millhone, naming the town Santa Theresa.
Between 1945 and 1946, Margaret worked at Warner Brothers as a screenwriter. It was during this time that Warner Brothers bought the option on her book, ‘The Iron Gate,’ but it never was produced. During the 1960s, two of Margaret’s novels were adapted for the television series, ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents.’
It’s been said of Margaret’s work, “Her novels are prized for their psychological penetration of the hearts and minds of murderers.” Margaret also wrote a non fiction book about the birds and animals she observed. Along with her husband, she founded a chapter of the Audubon Society.
Margaret was presented the prestigious Edgar Award by the Mystery writers of America in1955 for Best Novel, for ‘A Beast in View.’ In 1965, she was named Woman of the Year by ‘Los Angeles Times.’ She was also awarded the Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 1982 and the Derrick Murdoch Award in 1986.
Margaret died of a heart attack on March 26, 1994, at her home in Santa Barbara. One of her favorite quotes was, “Life is something that happens to you while you are making other plans.” Unfortunately, very few of her books are still in print.
Books by Margaret Millar:
The Invisible Worm (1941)
The Devil Loves Me (1942)
The Weak-Eyed Bat (1942)
Wall of Eyes (1943)
Taste of Fears (1945)
The Iron Gate (1945)
Experiment in Springtime (1947)
It’s All in the Family (1948)
The Cannibal Heart (1949)
Do Evil in Return (1950)
Rose’s Last Summer (1952)
Vanish in an Instant (1952)
Wives and Lovers (1954)
Beast in View (1955)
The Soft Talkers (1957)
The Listening Walls (1959)
A Stranger in My Grave (1969)
The Friend (1964)
Beyond This Point Are Monsters (1970)
The Friend (1974)
Ask For Me Tomorrow (1976)
Spider Webs (1986)
Omnibus:An Air That Kills / Do Evil in Return (Stark House Mystery Classics) (2006)
The Birds and the Beasts Were There (1968)
Short Stories:The Couple Next Door: Collected Short Mysteries (Lost Classics) (1954)
Radiant Flower of the Divine Heavens (1998)
The Couple Next Door: Collected Short Mysteries (2004)