George R. R. Martin creates fantasy novels and television shows. Dying of the Light, his first novel, was published in 1977, and by the mid-1980s, he was also writing for television.
Martin released the first part of his epic series A Song of Ice and Fire in 1996. With the fourth novel in the series, A Feast for Crows, he became a best-selling author in 2005, laying the way for a widely acclaimed TV adaptation that premiered as Game of Thrones on HBO in 2011.
Early Life and Education
George Raymond Richard Martin grew raised in Bayonne, New Jersey, in a world that “was five blocks long.” He may have spent his early years at home, but his mind appeared to transport him elsewhere. Martin, the oldest of three children, enjoyed watching unusual and suspenseful television series such as Thriller and The Twilight Zone.
Martin, the son of a longshoreman, began writing in elementary school. He peddled monster stories to other working-class kids in his neighborhood. Martin went on to other studies during his high school years. He began writing fan fiction based on the comic books he admired, as well as developing new superheroes. Martin acknowledged Marvel Comics creator Stan Lee as one of his key literary inspirations in a 2014 BBC interview, “even more than Shakespeare or Tolkien.”
Martin was a member of the chess team and worked on the school newspaper at Marist High School, a Catholic boys’ institution. Martin attended Northwestern University after graduating in 1966, where he pursued his passion for writing. In 1970, he received his bachelor’s degree in journalism, followed by a master’s degree in the same field the following year.
Martin, a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, did alternative service with the Cook County Legal Assistance Foundation from 1973 to 1976. He then worked as a college professor at Clarke College in Dubuque, Iowa, for two years.
Early Books: ‘A Song for Lya and Others’ and ‘Dying of the Light’
Martin sold “The Hero,” his first short story, to the science-fiction magazine Galaxy, which published it in 1971. He continued to create short stories and published a collection of them as A Song for Lya and Others in 1976. The next year, his debut novel, Dying of the Light, was published. Martin also edited several books, including New Voices in Science Fiction (1977) and the Wild Cards series.
Writing for Television
While Martin rose to prominence in the fantasy and science fiction communities, he had yet to gain widespread commercial success by the 1980s. He did, however, draw some interest from Hollywood. In 1986, he worked as a story editor on a remake of the old classic The Twilight Zone, and the next year, he became involved with the series Beauty and the Beast, which premiered the following year.
Martin faced unique obstacles when writing for television. “Whenever I turned in a script, the producers would always say to me: George, this is wonderful, but it would cost five times our budget to produce it,” he recalled in an interview with National Public Radio. Weary of the limits of television, Martin began work on a new writing project in the early 1990s: a fantasy series based on the Wars of the Roses in medieval England.
‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ Books and ‘Game of Thrones’
The first part of A Song of Ice and Fire, A Game of Thrones, was not an instant hit, but positive word of mouth increased sales as the series went. Martin’s book had reached the top of the bestsellers list by the fourth volume, 2005’s A Feast for Crows.
The books were exposed to a wider public with the HBO TV adaption Game of Thrones, which premiered in 2011 and went on to become one of the most popular and influential television programmes in history. It launched the careers of actresses such as Emilia Clarke, Bella Ramsey, Pedro Pascal, and Jason Momoa.
Martin also released the fifth book in the series, A Dance with Dragons, in 2011. Eager admirers from all over the world purchased the new book, resulting in yet another best-selling bestseller.
Martin was far from through with his fantasy universe when Game of Thrones ended its renowned run on HBO in 2019, with the parts The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring yet to be published.
While Martin is frequently compared to J. R. R. Tolkien, he writes grittier, earthier fantasy fiction than the man who produced The Lord of the Rings. Martin’s Westeros is primarily populated by humans who lead morally complicated lives and pursue their own objectives. And, like the game of chess he so adores, his stories are brilliantly handled. According to one critic, “Martin is a literary dervish, enthralled by complicated characters and vivid language, and bursting with the wild vision of the very best tale tellers.”
Martin, as a novelist, has likewise shown little mercy to his characters, unexpectedly murdering off important characters and other favorites. Martin believes he has “a certain moral obligation” to depict the reality of war in his fantasy stories. “Wars kill people. “In wars, people are maimed, and many of them are good, likable people who you don’t want to see die,” he once explained.
Martin is now an executive producer for the HBO prequel series House of the Dragon, which premiered in 2022 and is based on his book Fire & Blood.
Movie and TV Appearances
During its Black Friday trilogy in 2013, the iconic cartoon show South Park notoriously satirized Martin and Game of Thrones. The episodes had the main characters divided into fighting groups, similar to the television show, except their conflict was over whether to buy a PlayStation 4 or an Xbox One video game console during a Black Friday sale.
Martin provided the voice for an episode of the sketch comedy Robot Chicken in 2014. He also played himself in the 2015 Syfy channel film Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! and a zombified version of himself in the TV series Z Nation.
In 1974, Martin began dating Gale Burnick. Burnick was born in Philadelphia but moved to Chicago for a little over a year before marrying Martin in November 1975. “It was one of the best weddings I’ve ever attended. “The marriage, not so much,” Martin commented on his personal website, referring to their 1979 divorce. “The song we chose for our wedding was ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water.’ Perhaps we should have taken that as a hint.”
Martin presently resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with Parris McBride, his second wife, whom he married in 2011. They first met in 1975 and reconnected in the 1980s after Martin’s divorce.
Martin has no children.
Martin’s overall net worth is predicted to be around $120 million as of September 2023, according to Celebrity Net Worth. Martin reportedly earns $25 million per year from book sales and television profits, with the possibility to earn even more through spinoff shows.