[full name: Malcolm John Ross-Macdonald]
born 29 February 1932 in Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire; eldest son of a Scottish power engineer and a Welsh mother.
educated Chipping Sodbury infants, Market Drayton junior (1939), Prestwick Academy (1940), Greys College, Port Elizabeth (1941-44), Chipping Sodbury Grammar (1945), Bedford School (1945-50: Higher Certificate in Physics, Zoology, Botany, Art); Falmouth School of Art (1950-54: National Diploma in painting) [interruption for national service, 1954-56]; Slade School, UCL, 1956-58; studied under Claude Rogers, Lucian Freud: Slade diploma in painting.
1958: Taught English as a foreign language in London; shared a flat with the poet Jon Silkin, the playwright David Mercer, and novelist Bernice Rubens (our landlady); wrote The Big Waves, a roman à clef. Left the ms with David Mercer.
1958-61: Taught English as a foreign language in Umeå, Sweden; helped organize Kopparhatten, an art-and-crafts cooperative; also several art exhibitions at the Länsmuséet. Wrote The Big Waves, a roman à clef. Left the ms with David Mercer, who sent it to Tom Maschler at Jonathan Cape, who accepted it.
1961: Returned to Cornwall, wrote a sequel (later rejected); took a job as encyclopedia editor with Rathbone (later Aldus) Books, London.
1962: Married Ingrid Giehr of Hamburg; published The Big Waves; wrote another sequel (also rejected).
1963: Moved to Hertfordshire, where we had two daughters. Worked as editor, series editor, executive editor at Aldus until 1965-72: Became freelance. Wrote guidebooks for BOAC, brochures for Alcan, newspaper and magazine articles, and, with Donald Longmore (consultant at the National Heart Hospital) Spare Part Surgery, Machines in Medicine, (both Aldus) The Heart (Weidenfeld). Other publications: The World Wildlife Guide (Threshold Books); Beyond the Horizon (Grolier); Every Living Thing and Life in the Future (Grolier - the first and last of a 12-volume series for which I was consultant editor, too); Doors, Doors, Doors (Alcan). Also consultant on future projects for Readers Digest Books Division in the great days of Peter Glemser. Also radio plays: Kristina's Winter and The Truth, Tomorrow - Maybe, Conditional People (and others that were rejected). Taught graphic design at Hornsey College of Art.
1973: Was encouraged by Richard Imison, Head of Radio 4 drama, to write four radio plays, intended as a pilot for an 8-part Victorian saga - The World from Rough Stones, about a railway engineering dynasty. BBC dithered so I turned it into a novel with the same title - accepted by Hodder & Stoughton (UK) and Knopff (USA).
1974: Moved to Ireland with Ingrid and daughters. Hodder published The World from Rough Stones. The BBC finally broadcast 3 of the four original plays. Became full-time historical novelist, publishing under the name Malcolm Macdonald (henceforth MM):
1975: The Origin of Johnny (non-fiction - Dorling Kindersley's first title, published under my full name, M.J. Ross-Macdonald). An Irish TV play, Kevin's Home, was commissioned and bought by RTE but never produced.
1977: The Rich Are With You Always (MM). 1978: Sons of Fortune (MM).
1979: Abigail (MM).
1981: Goldeneye (MM).
1982: The Dukes (writing as Malcolm Ross - henceforth MR). Won Romantic Times award for Historical Novelist of the Year.
1983: Tessa d'Arblay (MM).
1984: In Love and War (aka For They Shall Inherit) (MM).
1986: Mistress of Pallas (aka On a Far Wild Shore) (MR)
1987: The Silver Highways (MM).
1988: The Sky with Diamonds (aka Honour and Obey) (MM)
A Notorious Woman (MR)
1989: His Father's Son (MM)
An Innocent Woman (MR)
1990: A Woman Alone (MR)
Hell Hath No Fury (an Irish tale, writing as M. R. O'Donnell - henceforth MRO'D)
1991: The Captain's Wives (MM)
A Woman Scorned (MRO'D)
1992: A Woman Possessed (MR)
1993: Dancing on Snowflakes (MM)
All Desires Known (MRO'D)
1994: For I have Sinned (MRO'D)
To The End of Her Days (MM)
Kernow & Daughter (MR)
1995: Crissy's Family (aka The Trevarton Inheritance) (MR)
1996: Tomorrow's Tide (MR)
1997: The Carringtons of Helston (MR)
1998: Like a Diamond (MR)
1999: Tamsin Harte (MR)
2001: Rose of Nancemellin (MR)
2011: The Dower House (MM)
2012: Strange Music (MM)
Promises to Keep (MM)
2013: All of the above republished in ebook formats
2014: Wrote a detailed editorial critique of Dickens's Oliver Twist and published Dickens's imagined 2nd edition in response
Where to find Malcolm Macdonald online
Where to buy in print
A chequered life in Britain, South Africa, Sweden, Ireland. The Slade. The army. Teaching in Sweden. Publishing. Freelancing. Novels. Radio plays. Teaching graphics, Journalism. The jackpot novel worth(?) $500k. Flight to Ireland. The money pit. Decreasingly-best sellers. The overdraft. Things turning pear-shaped. And the great marriage that survived it all and gave the world two fine daughters.
Oliver Twist - After the Edit
Dickens's original story contains 26 Incredible Coincidences, 21 Unanswered Questions, and 5 Plain Impossibilities. "Oliver Twist - After the Edit" sticks as close to the original as possible while getting rid of them all. It is both a serious piece of literary criticism and an even more enjoyable story. Includes the sort of critical notes a modern editor would make on the original ms today.
"The Dukes" is the story of a disputed inheritance, a national institution, a great family of soldiers of fortune, heroes, beauties, scoundrels, eccentrics, adventurers, an unbroken line of blue-blooded fascination that covers a hundred years of English (and American) history and social life, an intimate glimpse into the life of a great aristocratic family.
An abandoned baby leads a teenage girl to a brilliant career. In 1910 young teenager Jennifer Owen discovers an abandoned baby in a field, wrapped up with a penny for luck. Years later, with the help of society hostess Millicent Colston-Smart, she decides to track the child down. The trail (and that exact penny) leads to some startling discoveries for all concerned.
To the End of Her Days
Lay aside your present sorrows; others will deserve them more. When Jessica Lanyon's husband finally dies in 1920, of wounds from the Great War, she finds herself in charge of her own destiny for the first time ever. She does not lack for friendly and not-so-friendly advice but has no real ally until Lorna Sancreed, also widowed, arrives one day. But can the supposedly vulnerable Lorna be trusted?
The Carringtons of Helston
An old feud or a new love – which will prove the more deadly? In 1914 widower John Carrington returns from America to Cornwall, his ancestral homeland, with his grown-up children in tow. They hope to settle comfortably but an ancient feud with the neighbouring Liddicoats resurfaces – only to be complicated by love affairs across the feud lines.
On a Far Wild Shore
Inheriting a great estate? How wonderful! And the people who go with it? In 1889, young, beautiful, and newly widowed, Elizabeth Troy travels to her late husband's Cornish estate, hoping to find comfort among its fertile hills and valleys. But to her horror she finds the vast, decaying acreage of Pallas is now her sole responsibility – and that Morwenna Troy, her sister-in-law, is her sworn enemy.
A Woman Alone
When all the good men are flawed, what’s a good woman to do? Village girl Roseanne Kitto is destined to be farmer Mark Bodilly's wife – until a chance encounter with Stephen Morvah, the squire's son, presents her with a dilemma. Eventually she makes the socially scandalous (in the 1870s) decision to live alone – a “sin” she compounds by adopting a baby boy after his mother is murdered.
Come down in the world? Welcome to the solid ground! The mother, Harriet Harte, feels disgraced when left only a modest inheritance when her husband dies. But Tamsin, the daughter, finds it a liberation from upper class stiffness and boredom - and a chance to pursue her dream: to progress from running a seaside boarding house to owning a premier hotel overlooking the bay in Penzance.
Rose of Nancemellin
If she LOOKS upper class and TALKS upper class … it’s SHOWTIME! Rose’s gift of mimicry was both her undoing and her liberation. One day she pretends to be the daughter of the house and is sacked. She joins a down-at-heel strolling theatre but is quickly propelled toward the London stage, which she takes by storm. But the long road back to Nancemellin, and revenge, is beset with many an adventure.
A Notorious Woman
Let sleeping dogs lie—one of them may have a bite like a tiger. In 1847 the young, orphaned Johanna Rosewarne is treated as little better than a servant by her uncle and aunt. But when she catches the eye of the suitor intended for the daughter of the house, they cast her out with nothing. 700-odd action-packed pages later, all's well again.
Like a Diamond
Same house, same family, same forbidden love - will history repeat itself? It is 1910 and young Peter de Vivian, arriving at his new family home in Falmouth, is instantly smitten by Gemma Penhallow, a senior housemaid. But Gemma has more reasons than most to keep her distance. In a long campaign to win her heart, Peter underestimates his family's opposition and Gemma's stubbornness"
Kernow & Daughter
A disobedient daughter is sharper than a serpent’s tooth—and often more successful. Jessica Kernow, a daughter among three brothers, has always had to fight her corner – especially when, in 1900, she wants to go into the family business, against her father's desire for her to marry. But when she and Cornwallis Trelawney concoct a fake engagement, they both get more than they bargained for.
An Innocent Woman
Innocence? Ignorance? Sometimes it’s hard to know which is more dangerous. When young heiress Jane Hervey arrives in Cornwall in 1861 she is completely ignorant of the double standards that governed Victorian public and private life. This is the story of her unwitting discovery of the facts of life – and love – and how it changes everything and everyone in her circle.
Hell Hath No Fury
Revenge is sweet—bitter sweet. When Lady Lyndon-Fury snubs Daily O'Lindon on the station platform one soft day in 1885 she has no idea of the whirlwind she is sowing. For Daisy, bent on a minor revenge, becomes embroiled in a tit-for-tat that ends in the destruction of one family and a bitter-sweet triumph for another.
For I Have Sinned
One brief, careless moment is still long enough for all the world to change. It is 1913 and the McKennas are emigrating from Cork to South Africa. Through a tragic misunderstanding, they leave 7-year-old Salome behind on the quay ... and so begins an extraordinary tale of intrigue as, time and again, the growing girl finds herself loved and betrayed, inspired and abandoned.
The Powers That Be can beat anything except one determined woman. When both parents die in the same week in 1890, their family of five is split up and sent to various institutions. But Crissy, the second eldest, is determined to get them all back under one roof again despite the implacable opposition of her grandmother, who had disinherited her daughter, Crissy's mother, many years earlier.
All Desires Known
Be careful what you wish for ... someone may give it you! Lucy and Michael Raven are in deep trouble. The cost of being the most talked-about couple in Dublin in 1904 is high. But their troubles really begin when a wily old moneylender suggests a most bizarre solution to all their woes.
A Woman Scorned
"The past may be another country but many still live there." In 1886, five years after the tragedy that ruined her 15th birthday, Judith Carty returns to Castle Moore and resumes her flirtation with its heir, young Rick Bellingham. But Rick's best friend, Fergal, has reasons to see their love thwarted. So does Fergal's sister, Sally, who wants Rick for herself.
A Woman Possessed
Beware the return of ex-lovers. “Dormant” is not the same as “dead.”
They all thought Laura had got over her childhood love for ne'er-do-well Maurice Pettifer when she married solid, dependable Giles Curnow. They all thought Maurice died in South Africa, too – until, one evening in 1902, he turns up again, rich, unmarried, and determined to buy the neighbouring property to the Curnows.
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