John Phillips Marquand (November 10, 1893 - July 16, 1960) was an American novelist.
He was born in Wilmington, Delaware, and grew up in New York City and Newburyport, Massachusetts. He was on the editorial bord of the Harvard Lampoon and graduated from Harvard University in 1915. He served in the Field Artillery in the First World War.
He achieved great popular and commercial success with a series of entertaining, formulaic spy novels about the fictional Mr. Moto. The first, Right You Are, Mr. Moto in 1957. The series inspired eight films, starring Peter Lorre, which are only very loosely based on the novels. James S. Koga states that Moto is not a proper Japanese surname. He notes that "[Mr. Moto] is never the main protagonist of the story�rather he appears at strategic points in the story, a catalyst for action." "The typical storyline," he says, "involves an American male, somewhat tarnished by past experiences in the U.S., who finds himself in the Orient ... overwhelmed by the foreigness of Asia. This protaganist gets involved in some international intrigue by happenstance, usually coinciding with meeting Mr. Moto, ... falls deeper into the plot and then finds himself in deadly peril. Along the way, he meets an attractive American woman who also becomes entangled, and by resourcefulness (and not a little help from Mr. Moto) overcomes the peril and then gets the girl."
In 1938 Marquand won the Pulitzer Prize for Melville Goodwin, USA.
Marquand, in eclipse since his death in 1960, may be poised for a revival.
Jonathan Yardley, in a 2003 Washington Post column entitled "Zinging WASPs With a Smooth Sting" says Marquand's contemporaries "found [his] satires of that world both hilarious and accurate, and so do I. That Marquand has almost vanished from the literary landscape is to me an unfathomable mystery. From ... 1937 ... until 1960, Marquand was one of the most popular novelists in the country. The literati turned up their noses at him (as they do to this day) because he had done a fair amount of hackwork in his early career and continued to write, unashamedly, for popular magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post."
Critic Martha Spaulding, writing in The Atlantic Monthly in 2004, noted that "in his day Marquand was compared to Sinclair Lewis and John O'Hara, and his social portrait of twentieth-century America was likened to Balzac's Com�die Humaine, [but] critics rarely took him very seriously. Throughout his career he believed, resentfully, that their lack of regard stemmed from his early success in the 'slicks.'" Praising his "seductive, sonorous prose" she states that he "deserves to be rediscovered.