A brief bio of  John D. MacDonald

This website is devoted to John D. MacDonald, author of 78 books, including the famous Travis McGee series.  JDM is well-known in mystery fiction writing, especially for his books with Florida as a setting.  Most of the current Florida mystery writers acknowledge JDM’s impact on their writing.

Born In Sharon, Pa., MacDonald , as a young boy, wished he had been born a writer, believing that they were a separate "race," marked from birth.  By the time he died he had published 78 books, with more than 75 million copies in print. He graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in business; worked at several menial jobs before earning his MBA from Harvard; married and produced a son; and served in the OSS in India during WW2.

He wrote nearly 500 short stories, and published his first novel ,The Brass Cupcake, in 1950. He continues to earn praise from millions of readers and lasting respect from fellow authors. He was given the Grandmaster Award in 1972 by the Mystery Writers of America; The American Book Award (1980); the Ben Franklin Award (1955);and was Guest of Honor at Bouchercon in 1983. Numerous other awards and Honorary Doctorates were given to him as well.

Perhaps the greatest testament to his writing, now more than  25 years after his death in 1986, is that his books continue to sell, movies continue to be planned, and the internet continues to serve as a place to discuss his work and related matters (see  the Yahoo group Travis McGee Fan Club, eg.)  Or take a look at a young reader’s video on Travis McGee at:

I have added a JDM blog.  Click on here: to go to it.   And there’s another blog devoted the McGee novels , written by D.R. Martin.  Go to this link and check it out:


Please note that in addition to a bibliography of John D. MacDonald books  there are several pages wherein book covers and short descriptions are presented  about the Travis McGee series and the non-McGee novels of the 50’s and 60’s. There are additional  pages of--hopefully--items of interest to fans.


Here are some writer’s comments on JDM and Travis McGee:   

  In the N.Y.  Times Book Review for Feb. 2, 2012 critic Olen  Steinhauer was writing about a JDM contemporary, Elmore Leonard, but what he had to say about the best crime writers, that : “ Our best crime writers are sometimes our most astute social novelists, concerned as much with our country’s ills as they are with sensational homicides.”

The above quote  can be applied very accurately to John D. MacDonald.

Most readers loved MacDonald's work because he told a rip-roaring yarn. I loved it because he was the first modern writer to nail Florida dead-center, to capture all its languid sleaze, racy sense of promise, and breath-grabbing beauty...For me and many natives (of Florida), some of McGee's finest moments were when he paused, mid-adventure, to inveigh against the runaway exploitation of this rare and dying paradise. If a cypress swamp got plowed to make way for another shopping mall, he took it personally: "This was instant Florida, tacky and stifling and full of ugly and spurious energies." Every McGee saga guarantees such splendidly mordant commentary. The customary targets are greedhead developers, crooked politicians, chamber-of-commerce flacks, and the cold-hearted scammers who flock like buzzards to the Sunshine State. For John D. MacDonald, these were not just useful fictional villains; they were villains of real life. When he passed away unexpectedly in 1986, millions of fans worldwide wondered what would become of Travis McGee. Not me. I wondered what would become of Florida without him...."


                                 Carl Hiaasen, from an intro to

                                The Deep Blue Goodbye



JOHN D. MACDONALD  "....the great entertainer of our age, and a mesmerizing storyteller."

                                                                    --STEPHEN KING

"....a master storyteller, a masterful suspense writer."

                                                                --MARY HIGGINS CLARK

"....a dominant influence on writers crafting the continuing series character."

                                                                    --SUE GRAFTON

" favorite novelist of all time."

                                                                        --DEAN KOONTZ

"...the consummate pro, a master storyteller and witty observer."


"...remains one of my idols."

                                                                         --DONALD WESTLAKE


" of the great sagas in American fiction."

                                                                            --ROBERT B. PARKER

"...what a joy that these timeless and treasured novels are available again."

                                                                                --ED McBAIN


“To diggers a thousand years from now, the works of John D. MacDonald would be a treasure on the order of the tomb of Tutankhamen.”

                                                                 - KURT VONNEGUT


Contact Cal Branche at for questions and suggestions.

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