Martin Amis, son of novelist Kingsley Amis, is born in Oxford on this day in 1949. Amis’ father is a prominent novelist whose 1954 book, Lucky Jim, an academic satire, brought him international fame.
Martin Amis was the middle of three siblings. He attended 14 schools during the 1950s and 1960s as his father lectured at numerous universities in England and around the U.S. His parents divorced when he was 12, and Amis spent his teenage years hanging out in bars with the mod and hippie crowds. He went to Oxford, where he excelled. When he graduated, he became a journalist working for London’s elite literary publications. He started writing fiction in his early 20s, and his first novel, The Rachel Papers, was published in 1973. His novels, including Money (1984), London Fields (1989), and The Information, all use innovative plot structure and energetic wordplay to explore, and often to satirize, grotesque and lurid topics. His 1991 book, Time’s Arrow, shows the life of a former Nazi doctor in reverse, as if the doctor were living time backward. Amis married in 1984, has two sons, and is an avid pinball and snooker player.