George R.R. Martin

On this date in 1948, novelist, screenwriter and producer George Raymond Richard Martin was born in Bayonne, New Jersey. Martin, the son of longshoreman Raymond Collins Martin and his wife Margaret Brady Martin, grew up watching the boats come in and out of the docks. Feeling isolated, Martin turned to literature for inspiration, devouring fantasy and science fiction novels. He even began writing monster stories, selling them for pennies. Later selling his fiction to comic fanzines, Martin was first published in 1970. He earned his B. S. in journalism, graduating summa cum laude, and a master’s from Northwestern University.

During the 1970s, Martin wrote part time, working also as a VISTA volunteer and as a chess director for the Continental Chess Association. In 1976 he became an English and journalism instructor at Clarke College in Iowa. Martin moved to Santa Fe in 1979 to pursue his writing passion, receiving Hugo Awards and Nebula Awards for his short fiction. Venturing into Hollywood, Martin took a position in 1986 as a story editor for “The Twilight Zone” at CBS and as executive story consultant for “Beauty and the Beast” in 1998, quickly moving up to co-supervising producer. During this period, Martin served as vice president of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

In 1996, A Game of Thrones was published, Martin’s first installment of the epic fantasy series that would launch him to celebrity and become his magnum opus. A Feast for Crows (2005), the fourth novel in the series called A Song of Ice and Fire, became a New York Times No. 1 best-seller. The next installment, A Dance With Dragons (2011), stayed on the best-seller list for 88 weeks. That same year, the first book was adapted by HBO into the Emmy-winning hit series “Game of Thrones,” of which Martin is the co-executive producer. 

Exploring the inner turmoil of the human condition, and blurring the borders between right and wrong and good and evil, Martin’s novels are as stirring as they are thrilling. A man with a firm moral compass — he was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War — Martin persuades readers to confront their beliefs, to question bedrock assumptions, often killing his darlings to the dismay of his fans. Martin was married to Gale Burnick (1975 to 1979) and in 2011 married Parris McBride.

Freedom From Religion Foundation