John D. MacDonald
During his years in Sarasota, John D. MacDonald became one of America's great writers. He published sixty-seven novels, five nonfiction works, more than five hundred short stories, and received numerous accolades and awards. He was known for his clearly drawn characters, the strength of his storytelling, and for his favorite themes—exposing corruption, greed, and environmental destruction.
He came to Sarasota in 1951 after completing his World War II military service. Despite an earlier intention to enter business and earning a Master of Business Administration from Harvard University, he tentatively embarked on a career as a freelance writer off mystery stories and novels. With his determined work ethic and prodigious output, often having thirty manuscripts simultaneously submitted to various magazines, his stories of manners, morals, and crime began appearing in dozens of major publications. Convinced he had found his career, he bought a house on Siesta Key and remained in Sarasota until his death in 1986.
In 1964 he published the first of tents-one best-selling novels featuring Travis McGeee, his popular "knight in slightly tarnished armor" who rescued people who had been abused or cheated, encountering many memorable villains in the
John D. and the Friday Liars
From the first year of his arrival John D. MacDonald was an active member of the Sarasota community. He began the ongoing traditional the local writers' group when he joined fellow authors MacKinlay Kantor and Richard Glendinning to form the Friday "Liars," whose initial weekly meetings were held at the Plaza Spanish Restaurant on First Street. Over the subsequent decades, this group has hosted scores of award-winning writers and anchored the image of Sarasota as a "writer's town."
MacDonald was also a tenacious guardian of Florida's natural beauty and he often wrote newspaper columns and letters to the editor defending his vision of Sarasota. Long before it became popular, MacDonald championed the cause of those who would protect Sarasota's environment and frequently wrote, spoke, and occasionally went to court to stop what he regarded as unregulated development.
He was also an early defender of the rights of women and minorities. His commitment to education led him to become a member of the Board of Trustees of Ringling School of Art and Design and a trustee of New College, for which he acted as an avid promoter and fundraiser.