Re: RARA-AVIS: THE DARK TUNNEL, by Ross MacDonald 1944

Date: 13 Dec 2002


Re your message below:

> From what I remember, there was never any
> reconciliation, and I read
> profiles at the time that claimed John D. was
> irritated because many critics
> had a higher regard for Ross's work than for his
> own. As far as I know,
> Ross's feistiness with John D. was tied entirely to
> the name issue. He was
> forced to stop using John R. and go to Ross, and he
> didn't like it.

Here's how it went, if I remember correctly. Millar's first Archer novel, THE MOVING TARGET, was originally published under the pseudonym "John Macdonald" and appeared at almost the same time as JDM's first novel, which, coincidentally, was one of JDM's few genuine private eye novels.

Someone in JDM's family bought the Archer book thinking it was JDM's. I don't know whether or not there was an actual lawsuit, because I'm not sure names can be copyrighted. There WAS contact between the two authors via third parties about the name confusion and an agreement was reached. How heated the contact was, I don't know. In any case the reuslt was this.

Millar and MacDonald agreed that the second Archer book would be published as by "John Ross Macdonald," that this pseudonym would continue for a few books, after which the "John" would be dropped, and the Archer series would run from that point on as by "Ross Macdonald."

I have no idea what Millar though of JDM's work. In an interview years later (after Millar's death I think), JDM said something along the lines of "Neither one of us ever embarassed the other. Neither or us ever embarassed the name."


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