15 March 2019

Today in Mystery History: March 15th

A few years ago I started a website called Today in Mystery History, listing one event in our field for every day.  It turned out that the amount of Fame and Glory generated was not sufficient to balance the effort, so I stopped adding to it.  But that left me with a whole lot of date-specific data.   I decided I will occasionally use some of it here.  So, take a gander at what happened on this date in previous years...

March 15, 1861. Rodriguez Ottolengui was born in Charleston, South Carolina.  He was a pioneer in the field of dentistry (x-rays, root canals, etc.) but he was also an author of mystery novels and short stories.  Ellery Queen listed his book Final Proof as a major step in the history of the mystery short story.

March 15, 1946. On this day Kenneth Millar left the navy.  A year later he published his first novel, Blue City. Eventually he settled on the pseudonym Ross Macdonald.

March 15, 1948. On this date the great philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote to his friend the mystery writer Norbert Davis: “Your mags are wonderful. How people can read Mind if they could Street and Smith [Detective Story Magazine] beats me."

March 15, 1950. Patricia Highsmith's Strangers on a Train was published.

March 15, 1972.  Francis Ford Coppola's  The Godfather was released.  It went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture.

March 15, 1985.  On this date Ian Rankin  conceived his great character, Inspector John Rebus.

March 15, 1989. Sue Grafton's F is for Fugitive was published.

March 15, 200?  On this date 22-year-old singing star Cherry Pie suffers yet another overdose in Miami Beach.  Thus begins Carl Hiassin's Star Island..

So that's one date.  364 to go. 


  1. On this date in 44BC, a great crime was committed. That homicide prompted one of the most famous lines in dialogue published in the year 1599, "Et tu, Brute?"

  2. I like that. The other blog's loss is our gain.

    Sue Grafton plus John D MacDonald could take up at least a month and a half of days. The original Sherlock Holmes stories could provide two months by themselves.

    Nice, Rob.

  3. Wow. This is great stuff. I hope you use more here on SleuthSayers.
    "Et tu, Brute?" Yeah. The Ides of March. Thanks for reminding us.

  4. Love the Wittgenstein quote!

  5. Pen names always wonder how authors get from A to B. How to Kenneth Millar choose Ross Macdonald?

    Two schools of history differ about Caesar's last words. A couple historians well after the event believed he said nothing, but others reported his last words were addressed to the youthful Brutus, "and you, youngster?" Shakespeare must have been aware of the historical reports.

  6. Oh no, my first sentence sounds like I've been drinking wine for breakfast again. I meant to say :

    Pen names always make me wonder how author inventiveness gets from A to B. How did Kenneth Millar choose Ross Macdonald? That's a mystery to me.

  7. Thanks for the comments. I should have put in a link to a webpage about Davis and Wittgenstein's friendship: http://www.mysteryfile.com/NDavis/Wit.html

    Anne, Millar changed his name because his wife Margaret Millar was already a successful author. I don't recall how he wound up with Ross Macdonald, but John D. MacDonald was convinced he was ripping him off. That got nasty.

  8. Please do more of these Robert! I always forget Rankin has been around so long. Each new book by him jumps out of the gate. He hasn't had a Sophomore Slump imo.

  9. Love these - also, on this date, to tie in with Lawrence Maddox' post, the actor Lawrence Tierney was born, as well as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Jimmy Swaggart, and one of my favorites, Ry Cooder.

  10. "I don't recall how he wound up with Ross Macdonald, but John D. MacDonald was convinced he was ripping him off. That got nasty."
    As I recall, he picked, for some reason, "John Ross Macdonald" and dropped the "john" when it became too nasty.

  11. March 15, 1875 is the birthday of writer Wallace Irwin whose 1935 novel "The Julius Caesar Murder Case" was an early mystery set in Ancient Rome (That's a whole genre now!) Of course, the 15th is also the Ides of March...


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