Ross Macdonald was born Kenneth Millar in Los Gatos, California, on December 13, 1915, the son of John Macdonald Millar and Annie Moyer Millar. (He did not adopt the Macdonald pseudonym until 1956.) In 1919, the family moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, where his father (primarily a journalist) was a harbor pilot for a while. His parents separated the same year, and Macdonald (whose mother was a near invalid) lived with different Canadian relatives for about two years in 1928 and 1929 while attending St. John’s, a boarding school in Winnipeg.
From there he went to Medicine Hat, Alberta, for a year to stay with an aunt, and then moved to Kitchener, Ontario, where he lived with his mother and grandmother and studied at Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate and Vocational School. While there (1930-1932), he met Margaret Ellis Sturm, whom he would marry years later. Both published for the first time in the same issue of the school magazine, The Grumbler; Macdonald’s story, a parody of Arthur Conan Doyle, featured a detective called Herlock Sholmes.
The 1932 death of his father gave Macdonald a legacy which enabled him to enter the University of Western Ontario; when his mother died in 1935, however, he left school and spent much of 1936 and 1937 traveling in Europe. Finally, on June 1, 1938, he received his A.B. degree and the next day married Margaret Sturm. After attending summer school at the University of Michigan, they returned to Toronto, where Macdonald did graduate work at the Ontario College of Education. A daughter, Linda Jane, was born to the couple in June, 1939, and for the next two years Macdonald taught English at his former secondary school while returning to Michigan in the summers for graduate work. After Margaret (writing as Margaret Millar) published her first mystery novel, The Invisible Worm, in 1941, Macdonald was able to become a full-time graduate student at the University of Michigan, but induction in the U.S. Navy interrupted his studies in 1944. Immediately prior to his induction, he had completed his first novel, The Dark Tunnel (1944), a spy story; while serving as communications officer on the escort carrier Shipley Bay in the Pacific, he wrote Trouble Follows Me (1946)....
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