Born in Gloucestershire in 1932, Malcolm was educated in Shropshire, Scotland, South Africa, and Bedford before going to Falmouth School of Art and the Slade. He taught English in Sweden, had his first novel published in 1962, became an encyclopedia editor at Aldus Books, then freelanced from 1966, when he also taught graphics at Hornsey.
He became a full-time historical novelist after 1974 with the publication of The World From Rough Stones, an epic about the building of Summit Railway Tunnel on the Manchester–Leeds Railway in 1839.
He moved to Ireland with his wife and two daughters and wrote a steady stream of some 30 historical novels between then and 2001, when the last, Rose of Nancemellin, was published.
There is a full list of his work with plot summaries and critical reviews, good and bad, on his own website at www.malcolmmacdonald.org, where a few copies of most of them are for sale – along with some 3,000 books from his private research library. He has recently complete The Felix Breit trilogy, a contemporary fiction on which he had been working since 1985.