Malgonkar was born into a royal family, and educated at Bombay University. He was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Maratha Light Infantry, a big game hunter, a civil servant, a mine owner and a farmer, and he also stood for parliament. Most of that activity was during the build-up to Indian independence and its aftermath, often the settings for his works. The socio-historical milieux of those times form the backdrop of his novels, which are usually of action and adventure. He also wrote non-fiction, including biography and history.
Malgonkar lived in a remote bungalow called ‘Burbusa Bungalow’ located at Jabalpet in Joida Taluk in Uttara Kannada District, Karnataka. His only child Suneeta, who was educated at the famous Lawrence School, Sanawar, died in 1998.
For many years, Malgonkar wrote a weekly column covering a wide range of topics, which was published in Indian newspapers like The Statesman and Deccan Herald. Most of his books were published in India by Orient Paperbacks or by Rupa Paperbacks.
- The Sea Hawk: Life and Battles of Kanhoji Angrey (1959)
- Distant Drum (1960)
- A Combat of Shadows (1962)
- The Princes (1963)
- A Bend in the Ganges (1964)
- Spy in Amber (1971)
- The Devil’s Wind (on the life on Peshwa Nana Sahib) (1972)
- Shalimar (1978) [Novelization of the film Shalimar]
- Bandicoot Run (1982)
- Puars (Pawars) of Dewas Senior (1963)
- Chhatrapatis of Kolhapur (1971)
- The Men Who Killed Gandhi (1978)
- Cue from the Inner Voice: The Choice Before Big Business (1980)
- Dropping Names (1996)
- A Teller of Tales
- The Garland Keepers
- Cactus Country
- A Toast in Warm Wine and Other Short Stories (1974)
- In Uniform
- Bombay Beware (1975)
- Rumble-Tumble (1977)
- Four Graves and Other Stories (1990)
- Inside Goa
- Garland Keepers
- "Malgonkar passes away". Deccan Herald. 2010-06-15. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
- "Manohar Malgonkar passes away". The Hindu. 2010-06-156. Retrieved 2010-06-17. Check date values in:
- Uday (2010-06-16). "Manohar Malgonkar passes away - All About Belgaum". All About Belgaum. Retrieved 2016-12-18.
- "Malgonkar's books, antiques seek attention". Deccan Herald. Retrieved 2016-12-18.
Padmanabhan, A., "The Fictional World of Manohar Malgonkar", Atlantic Publications, 2002.
Janet M. Powers. "Manohar Malgonkar" South Asian Novelists in English. Ed. Jaina C. Sanga. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003. 136-143
- Officers and Gentlemen, a 2000 article
- Picture of Manohar Malgonkar at Kamat.com
- "Manohar Malgonkar's contribution to Indian writing in English remains largely unacknowledged", DNA (Daily News and Analysis), Bangalore, June 17, 2010
- Padmanabhan, A. "The Fictional World of Manohar Malgonkar." Ph.D. Thesis 1988 at Shodhganga@INFLIBNET