Margaret Millar Biography


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Margaret Millar was born Margaret Ellis Sturm in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, on February 5, 1915, to Henry William Sturm and Lavinia Ferrier Sturm. Young Margaret’s first love was music. She studied the piano from an early age and became an accomplished player, giving recitals when she was still in high school. At the Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate Institute, she was a member of the debating team, along with Kenneth Millar, who would later become her husband. Their first stories appeared together in their high school magazine, The Grumbler, in 1931. While attending the University of Toronto from 1933 through 1936, Margaret majored in classics and developed a lifelong interest in psychology that would figure strongly in her work. She and Kenneth Millar were married on June 2, 1938, after his graduation from the same university.

After the birth of her only child, Linda Jane, in 1939, Millar was ordered to remain in bed because of a heart ailment. An invalid for some time, she began to write mysteries, achieving early success with The Invisible Worm (1941)—a success that allowed her husband to give up teaching high school and return to graduate school full time. Margaret’s success also inspired Kenneth to begin his own attempts at writing; as her first reader and editor (though never her collaborator), he said that he learned to write from observing her work. To avoid confusion with his wife’s growing fame, he adopted the pen name Ross Macdonald. Ironically, though both were successful crime novelists, and she the more widely read at the outset,...

(The entire section is 645 words.)