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Alistair MacLean, late in life
|Born||Alistair Stuart MacLean
21 April 1922
Shettleston, Glasgow, Scotland
|Died||2 February 1987
|Cause of death||Series of strokes|
|Resting place||Céligny, Switzerland|
|Other names||Ian Stuart|
|Education||Daviot local system
Inverness Royal Academy
Hillhead High School
|Alma mater||University of Glasgow|
|Occupation||Author and teacher|
|Years active||1955 to 1986|
|Employer||Royal Navy (1941–1946)
Gallowflat School (1946–1956)
|Net worth||£73,347 (at death)|
|Height||5 ft 7 in (170 cm)|
|Spouse(s)||Gisela Heinrichsen (1953–1972)
Mary Marcelle Georgius (1972–1977)
|Children||Three sons (one adopted) with Gisela|
|Parent(s)||Revd Alistair MacLean and Mary Lamont|
Alistair Stuart MacLean (Scottish Gaelic: Alasdair MacGill-Eain; 21 April 1922 – 2 February 1987) was a Scottish novelist who wrote popular thrillers and adventure stories. His works include The Guns of Navarone, Ice Station Zebra and Where Eagles Dare – all three were made into popular films. He also wrote two novels under the pseudonym Ian Stuart.
MacLean was the son of a Church of Scotland minister and learned English as a second language after his mother tongue, Scottish Gaelic. He was born in Glasgow but spent much of his childhood and youth in Daviot, ten miles south of Inverness. He was the third of four sons.
He joined the Royal Navy in 1941, serving in World War II with the ranks of Ordinary Seaman, Able Seaman, and Leading Torpedo Operator. He was first assigned to PS Bournemouth Queen, a converted excursion ship fitted for anti-aircraft guns, on duty off the coasts of England and Scotland. Beginning in 1943, he served on HMS Royalist, a Dido-class light cruiser. There he saw action in 1943 in the Atlantic theatre, on two Arctic convoys and escorting carrier groups in operations against Tirpitz and other targets off the Norwegian coast. In 1944 he and HMS Royalist served in the Mediterranean theatre, as part of the invasion of southern France and in helping to sink blockade runners off Crete and bombard Milos in the Aegean. During this time MacLean may have been injured in a gunnery practice accident. In 1945, in the Far East theatre, MacLean and Royalist saw action escorting carrier groups in operations against Japanese targets in Burma, Malaya, and Sumatra. (MacLean's late-in-life claims that he was captured by the Japanese and tortured have been dismissed by both his son and his biographer as drunken ravings.) After the Japanese surrender, Royalist helped evacuate liberated POWs from Changi Prison in Singapore.
While a university student, MacLean began writing short stories for extra income, winning a competition in 1954 with the maritime story "Dileas". The publishing company Collins asked him for a novel and he responded with HMS Ulysses, based on his own war experiences, as well as credited insight from his brother Ian, a Master Mariner. The novel was a great success and MacLean was soon able to devote himself entirely to writing war stories, spy stories and other adventures.
In the early 1960s, MacLean published two novels under the pseudonym "Ian Stuart" in order to prove that the popularity of his books was due to their content rather than his name on the cover. They sold well, and MacLean made no attempt to change his writing style. MacLean's books eventually sold so well that he moved to Switzerland as a tax exile. From 1963–1966, he took a hiatus from writing to run a hotel business in England.
MacLean's later books were not as well received as the earlier publications and, in an attempt to keep his stories in keeping with the time, he sometimes lapsed into unduly improbable plots. He also struggled constantly with alcoholism, which eventually brought about his death in Munich on 2 February 1987. As reported in the newspaper he died of a stroke. He is buried a few yards from Richard Burton in Céligny, Switzerland. He was married twice and had two sons by his first wife, as well as an adopted third son.
MacLean was awarded a Doctor of Letters by the University of Glasgow in 1983.
List of works
|1957||The Guns of Navarone||#12||3|
|1958||South by Java Head||—||—|
|1959||The Last Frontier||in the US The Secret Ways||—||—|
|1959||Night Without End||#13||2|
|1961||Fear Is the Key||—||—|
|1961||The Dark Crusader||in the US The Black Shrike (as Ian Stuart)||—||—|
|1962||The Golden Rendezvous||#13||8|
|1962||The Satan Bug||as Ian Stuart||#16||1|
|1962||All About Lawrence of Arabia||Non-fiction|
|1963||Ice Station Zebra||#10||1|
|1966||When Eight Bells Toll||—||—|
|1967||Where Eagles Dare||He also wrote the screenplay.||#8||8|
|1968||Force 10 From Navarone||#4||18|
|1969||Puppet on a Chain||Also wrote screenplay||#5||17|
|1970||Caravan to Vaccarès||#6||12|
|1972||Alistair MacLean Introduces Scotland||Non-fiction, edited by Alastair Dunnett|
|1973||The Way to Dusty Death||—||—|
|1976||The Golden Gate||#8||2|
|1981||River of Death||—||—|
|1985||The Lonely Sea||Collection of short stories (2 stories added in 2009)||—||—|
Source for The New York Times Best Seller list: "Adult New York Times Best Seller Listings". Hawes Publications. Retrieved August 30, 2014. Figures are for the Adult Hardcover Fiction lists, 1956 through 1987: highest position reached and total number of weeks on list. A "—" indicates it did not make the list. Note that the Times list consisted of a Top 10 from 1963 through 1976, but a Top 15 or 16 before and after; thus, books during that middle period may have had longer stays relative to the others.
UNACO books by other authors
|1980||Hostage Tower||John Denis|
|1981||Air Force One is Down||John Denis|
|1989||Death Train||Alastair MacNeill|
|1989||Night Watch||Alastair MacNeill|
|1990||Red Alert||Alastair MacNeill|
|1991||Time of the Assassins||Alastair MacNeill|
|1992||Dead Halt||Alastair MacNeill|
|1993||Code Breaker||Alastair MacNeill|
|1997||Prime Target||Hugh Miller|
|1998||Borrowed Time||Hugh Miller|
Golden Girl series by other authors
|1992||Golden Girl||by Simon Gandolfi|
|1993||Golden Web||by Simon Gandolfi|
|1994||Golden Vengeance||by Simon Gandolfi|
Films with screenplay contribution
|1968||Where Eagles Dare||book author/screenplay|
|1970||Puppet on a Chain||book author/screenplay|
|1971||When Eight Bells Toll||book author/screenplay|
|1975||Breakheart Pass||book author/screenplay|
|1961||The Secret Ways||book author|
|1961||The Guns of Navarone||book author|
|1965||The Satan Bug||book author|
|1968||Ice Station Zebra||book author|
|1972||Fear Is the Key||book author|
|1974||Caravan to Vaccares||book author|
|1977||Golden Rendezvous||book author|
|1978||Force 10 from Navarone||book author|
|1979||Bear Island||book author|
|1980||The Hostage Tower||story|
|1989||River of Death||book author|
|1995||The Way to Dusty Death||book author|
Allegedly written by Alistair MacLean
|1962||Bloody borderland||by Tadeusz Kostecki in 1946 as Droga powrotna Płowego Jima|
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
- "Rev. Alistair MacLean". Family Search. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
- Webster, Alistair MacLean: A Life, p. 191.
- Johnstone, Iain (10 May 1978). "The Man with the Golden Typewriter". The Australian Women's Weekly. p. 65. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
- Norman, Barry (2003). And Why Not?: Memoirs of a Film Lover. NY: Simon and Schuster. pp. 211–14. ISBN 978-0684020884. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
- McDOWELL, EDWIN. "ALISTAIR MacLEAN DIES; BOOKS SOLD IN MILLIONS." New York Times, Late Edition (East Coast) ed.Feb 03 1987.
- "PAPERBACK BEST SELLERS; MASS MARKET." New York Times, Late Edition (East Coast) ed.Apr 25 1982.
- Petri Liukkonen. "Alistair MacLean". Books and Writers
- J. Kingston Pierce (1 October 2013). "Fit to Thrill: Alistair MacLean Deserves to Be Read Again". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
- Edwin McDowell (3 February 1987). "Alastair MacLean Dies; Books Sold In Millions". New York Times. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
- John Charles (May 2014). "Gone But Not Forgotten: Alistair MacLean". RA News. EBSCO. NoveList. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
- "Bestselling British Author Alistair MacLean Dead At 64". Ocala Star-Banner. 3 February 1987. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
- Lee, Robert A. Alistair MacLean: The Key is Fear. Borgo Press, 1976. ISBN 0-89370-203-X.
- Webster, Jack. Alistair MacLean: A Life. Chapmans Publishers, 1991. ISBN 1-85592-519-2. (Alternate title: Alistair MacLean: A Biography of a Master Storyteller.)
- "Maclean, Alistair." Chambers Biographical Dictionary. Liam Rodger and Joan Bakewell. London: Chambers Harrap, 2011.