Martin, Andrew 1952- (Andy Martin)

views updated

Martin, Andrew 1952- (Andy Martin)


Born December 30, 1952, in London, England; son of Harold Horatio (an engineer) and Milvena (a seamstress) Martin; married Heather Rachel Pratt (a university lecturer), August 5, 1989; children: Spencer Joseph. Education: University of Sussex, B.A., 1978, M.A., 1979; Cambridge University, Ph.D., 1982.


Home—Cambridge, England. Office—Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages, University of Cambridge, Sidgwick Ave., Cambridge CB3 9DA, England. Agent—Sara Mengul, Murray Pollinger, 222 Old Brompton Rd., London SW5 0BZ, England. E-mail—[email protected]


Educator and writer. King's College, Cambridge University, Cambridge, England, research fellow, 1983-87, lecturer in French, 1985—.



The Knowledge of Ignorance: From Genesis to Jules Verne, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England), 1985.

The Mask of the Prophet: The Extraordinary Fictions of Jules Verne, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1990.

Walking on Water, J. Murray (London, England), 1991.

Waiting for Bardot, Faber & Faber (London, England), 1996.

Napoleon the Novelist, Blackwell (Malden, MA), 2000.

Stealing the Wave: The Epic Struggle between Ken Bradshaw and Mark Foo, Bloomsbury (London, England), 2007.

Surfing correspondent, London Times. Contributor to periodicals, including Daily Telegraph. Napoleon the Novelist has been published in French.


A youthful infatuation with the French starlet Brigitte Bardot fuels the memoirs of Andrew Martin, who published Waiting for Bardot in 1996. (The title is a pun on Samuel Beckett's existential play Waiting for Godot, in which two characters wait, seemingly in vain, through the course of the drama.) As an eight-year-old in 1960, Martin was under the spell of the actress—whom he refers to as BB—then at her peak as a movie star. As a teenager Martin tried to hitch a ride to St. Tropez to meet Bardot (and lose his virginity to her). That episode and others are couched in philosophic prose reflecting the author's future career as an Oxford academic. "Indeed there is a waggishly donnish tone throughout [Waiting for Bardot]," according to Sunday Times reviewer Nicholas Lezard. "Most of the book," Lezard continued, "is about the straightforward frustrations of the British male adolescent, but Martin knows that this is not enough to hang a memoir on…. Hence the Sartre jokes." New Statesman contributor Sean French found Martin's memoir, if "emotionally evasive," still "very funny and likeable. He has a neat turn of phrase, such as when he observes that, uniquely for a film star, Bardot was identified with a particular place, [St. Tropez]: ‘BB alone had given out not just her statistics but her coordinates.’"

Did the emperor Napoleon Bonaparte lay siege to Europe because he was frustrated in his attempts to be a creative writer? That is the theory behind Martin's next book, Napoleon the Novelist. In Martin's view, as David Bell described it in the London Review of Books, "Napoleon dreamed of literary as well as military glory, wrote copiously at various moments in his life, and had real talent for it." Bell continued that "the trouble with Martin's choice of subject is his failure to acknowledge just how ordinary it was, two hundred years ago, for military and literary ambitions to intertwine." However, noted Bell, if Martin "is so dazzled by his subject that he fails to see him in the context of his time," Bell also conceded that Napoleon the Novelist is "an entertaining tour of … Napoleonic obsessions."

In his 2007 book, Stealing the Wave: The Epic Struggle between Ken Bradshaw and Mark Foo, the author explores a longtime rivalry between two surfers: Ken Bradshaw, an outgoing Texan devoted to the idea of pure surfing, and Mark Foo, a Chinese American with good looks and a flair for self promotion. The competition between the two elite surfers takes place primarily in Hawaii as the two compete to outdo each other on monster waves. Eventually Bradshaw and Foo begin to gain a grudging respect for each other, and a budding partnership seems destined until one is killed in a surfing accident. "Martin persuasively and vividly conveys the psychology and personalities of these outsized figures, and the gradual rapprochement of the bitter rivals becomes fascinating and oddly touching," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that the author "tells a gripping story of … the real struggle each faced against the ocean."



English Historical Review, February, 2002, William Doyle, review of Napoleon the Novelist, p. 206.

Entertainment Weekly, June 1, 2007, Whitney Pastorek, review of Stealing the Wave: The Epic Struggle between Ken Bradshaw and Mark Foo, p. 71.

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2007, review of Stealing the Wave.

London Review of Books, September 6, 2001, David Bell, "When the Barracks Were Bursting with Poets," pp. 26-27.

New Statesman, November 1, 1996, Sean French, review of Waiting for Bardot, p. 46.

Publishers Weekly, April 2, 2007, review of Stealing the Wave, p. 51.

Sunday Times (London, England), Nicholas Lezard, "Desperately Seeking Brigitte," p. 3.

Times Literary Supplement, November 16, 1990, review of The Mask of the Prophet: The Extraordinary Fictions of Jules Verne, p. 1231.


University of Cambridge Web site, (December 15, 2007), faculty profile of author.

About this article

Martin, Andrew 1952- (Andy Martin)

Updated About content Print Article