William Edward Daniel Ross’s Transformation into a Popular Fiction Novelist, 1962-1967

  • Janet B. Friskney


William Edward Daniel Ross transformed himself into a popular fiction novelist in mid-life; the years between 1962 and 1967 witnessing his authorial advance from apprentice to journeyman. During this period, he produced at least 85 original novels, which appeared in the United States or the United Kingdom in hardback, paperback, or digest format. By 1966, Ross’s rapid production identified him as a “literary factory” within the trade. As a “professional writer,” he responded to the market needs of publishers, which led him to produce novels in multiple genres, including mysteries, westerns, nurse romances, and gothics. The majority of his novels appeared under pseudonyms, most of them feminine; as Ross recognised, this circumstance obscured his claims to authorship, leading to his early designation as “Canada’s best-known unknown author.”

   A substantial collection of Ross’s professional papers held at Boston University represents an invaluable resource into this author’s early years as a novelist, and into the trans-Atlantic popular fiction market for which he wrote. In combination with newspaper and magazine articles episodically published about him, this resource reveals an author who, between 1962 and 1967, established himself with publishers as a reliable creator of popular fiction. Ross brokered key business relationships with several hardback publishers producing popular fiction for the commercial lending libraries, as well as half a dozen paperback firms. Ross’s remarkable level of production relied on key “support personnel”: his wife Marilyn Ross facilitated his writing daily while New York-based literary agents Robert Mills and Donald MacCampbell offered strategic guidance.

How to Cite:

Friskney, J., (2021) “William Edward Daniel Ross’s Transformation into a Popular Fiction Novelist, 1962-1967”, Authorship 10(1). doi:

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Published on
29 Jun 2021
Peer Reviewed