In the early 1950’s Macdonald Harris began his career as a fiction writer selling short stories to national magazines while Donald Heiney was beginning his academic career as faculty at the University of Utah. In the mid 1960s Donald Heiney became one of the pioneer faculty of UC Irvine, while Macdonald Harris turned to writing novels.
For thirty-two years between 1961 and 1993 Macdonald Harris published a novel on average every other year. For the first ten of these years, Donald Heiney was a full-time professor at UC Irvine in the Department of English and Comparative Literature, and then taught part-time in the Master of Fine Arts, Program in writing which he had helped found.
How are these two related? As Heiney explained for this biography in World Authors 1985-1990:
“My legal name is Donald Heiney. The use of a fictional pseudonym, MacDonald Harris, which I began with my earliest stories, has provided a convenient form of controlled schizophrenia which has enabled me to cling to an artistic temperment and a creative outlook even though I’ve lived most of my life in a banaly bourgeois atmosphere. The problem for a writer in those circumstances, I think, is to resist the forces that attempt to make him normal and to remain a little crazy. In this, at least, I think I have succeeded. If I could characterize the development of my writing over the years, I would say that it has become odder and more idiosyncratic, and at the same time more accessible to larger number of readers. I find that a difficult achievement, and one that I am pleased with.”
Archive Collection MS.F.004 contains the Donald Heiney papers and provides a rich source of information about his prolific novel writing and publishing process in the late 20th century. The finding aid is available now. There are various manuscripts, correspondence, research files and newspaper clippings and reviews for Harris’s sixteen novels. His non-fiction writings as a professor, books on modern European literature, book reviews, literary criticism and translations, are also similarly represented.