Biography: Days or "Domestic Privacies"

Samuel Johnson believed that the heart of biography resided in "domestic privacies" -- personal anecdotes or private vignettes that defined a subject's character. In the modern era few authors can rival the public frenzy that Amis has inspired.

The links below provide an introduction to Amis's family relations and personal controversies. For more information, please consult the Interviews section of The Martin Amis Web.


Martin Amis was born Martin Louis Amis on 25 August 1949, the second of three children to Kingsley and Hilary (Hilly) Amis (nee Bardwell). His brother Philip is nearly one year older, and his sister Sally died in the year 2000. In 1984 he married Antonia Phillips, with whom he has two sons, Louis (b. 1985) and Jacob (b. 1986).


He left this marriage in 1993 and in 1996 married the writer Isabel Fonseca, a relationship that has produced two daughters, Fernanda (b. 8 November 1997) and Clio (b. 1999). An affair with Lamorna Heath in 1974 produced another daughter, Delilah Seale, whom he met for the first time in 1996. The previous year he lost his father and learned that his cousin, Lucy Partington, had become (in 1973) one of the victims of serial-killer Frederick West. In recent years he has divided his time between homes in London, Uruguay, and Brooklyn, NY.



Martin Amis: The Biography, by Richard Bradford

Released in 2011, Bradford's biography proved to be as controversial as Amis itself. Amis and his agent pressured one publisher (LINK | PDF) into abandoning the project, and when later published by Constable & Robinson, reviews were mixed.


Review by Leo Robson in the New Statesman, 14 November 2011. LINK

Review by Amanda Craig in the Indepedent, 13 November 2011. LINK

Review by D.J. Taylor in the Indepedendent, 11 November 2011. LINK

Review by Nicholas Blincoe in the Telegraph, 7 November 2011. LINK

Review by Sam Leith in the Spectator, 6 November 2011. LINK

Review by Tom Lamont in the Guardian, 5 November 2011. LINK | PDF

Review by Geoff Dyer in the Financial Times, 4 November 2011. LINK

Review by David Sexton in the London Evening Standard, 3 November 2011. LINK




Kingsley Amis Page at the Guardian and Observer online LINK

Kingsley Amis Interviews at BBC Four (Realplayer Required) LINK

Kingsley Amis Obituary by Eric Jacobs, The Guardian, 23 October 1995 LINK | PDF

Kingsley Amis Interview in the Paris Review (1975) PDF


Amis and Son: Two Literary Generations by Neil Powell. LINK

Review by Peter Craven in The Melbourne Age, 19 July 2008. LINK | PDF

Review by Geraldine Bedell in The Guardian, 1 June 2008. LINK

Review by John Preston in The Telegraph, 30 May 2008. LINK

Review by Sam Leith in The Spectator, 14 May 2008. LINK


Daniel Farson Amises 1950s

Take a Dipso Like You LINK | PDF

Alexander Waugh on Kingsley's three publications on drinking. Bookforum magazine, February/March 2008.


The Life of Kingsley Amis


Zachary Leader on researching and writing the book, Sunday Telegraph, 19 November 2006. Also reviewed by Ferdinand Mount in the Spectator, 11 November 2006, and by Clive James, Times Literary Supplement, 31 January 2007.


See also Leader's discussion with Martin Amis at the London Review Bookshop, 28 November 2006. LINK (three-part video)


Slipstream: A Memoir LINK | WMV

Memoir of Elizabeth Jane Howard, Kingsley Amis's second wife. See also Sarah Sands's interview with Hilly Kilmarnock [LINK | PDF] and Geoggrey Levy's interview with Elizabeth Jane Howard and Hilly Kilmarnock [LINK | PDF] in The Daily Mail, 6 October and 27 September 2006, respectively.


Select Interviews with Elizabeth Jane Howard

Speaking with Corinna Honan in The Daily Mail, 1 November 2007. LINK | PDF

Speaking with Rosie Millard in The Times, 12 October 2008. LINK | PDF


Family Detective LINK | PDF

Nick Barratt's brief survey of Amis's life. The Telegraph, 9 June 2007.


The Amis Inheritance LINK | PDF

Charles McGrath on the two Amises, New York Times, 22 April 2007.


Dear Martin, Yours Eric WORD

The Times, 11 May 2000. Eric Jacobs on his feud with Amis over the death-bed diary he kept during Kingsley Amis's demise. See also How the Feud Began in The Times,

12 May 2000. WORD


Candid Amis relives a bad year LINK | PDF

Marianne McDonald in the Independent, 13 April 1996. On Amis's choice of agents as well as Kingsley's death, about which Amis said. "Dad was my ghostly sub- editor. Although he didn't read my books, of course, though I read all of his. I dedicated London Fields to him and he read about 30 pages. He didn't get it ... But yeah, I minded when it was clear he just couldn't finish my novels - it was a generational kind of taste, I think."


Unpublished Interview with Kingsley Amis OVERVIEW | TRANSCRIPT

Interviewed by free-lance journalist Stephanie T. de Pue in 1975. An audio version of this interview also exists. Email me if you're interested.




Sally Amis Dies WORD | PDF

From The Times, 9 November 2000. See also Philip Larkin's poem "Born Yesterday," which commemorates Sally Amis's birth.


An Amis Who Lives in His Own World WORD

The Independent, 21 May 1995. Older brother Philip Amis speaks with Cal McCrystal about his relationship with Martin and his career as a college artist. Martin's novel Success is dedicated to him.


On a Whimsical Carousel Ride Back to Childhood WORD

The Observer Review, 28 November 1993. Philip Amis speaks with Andrew Billen.




Interviews by Isabel Fonseca upon the release of her novel Attachment

With Mark Mordue in the Sydney Morning Herald LINK

With India Knight in the Sunday Times LINK


"She is the smiliest, most playful of babies..." WORD

The Times, 7 April 1997. Amis speaks with Valerie Grove about fatherhood and family.


Martin Amis & Family

"Hello, is that Delilah? ..." WORD

The Guardian, 30 August 1997. Delilah Seale speaks with Vicky Ward about meeting Amis for the first time.


On Amis as Grandfather LINK | PDF

Delilah Jeary (nee Seale) on Amis's grandfatherly joy over her child Isaac.


Excerpt from Experience: A Memoir

The Guardian, 10 May 2000. Martin Amis on Delilah Seale and the birth of his daughter Fernanda. WORD


My long lost dad, Martin Amis LINK | PDF

Interview with, and profile of, Delilah Jeary in the Guardian, 25 February 2011.


"Dear Brother" LINK | PDF

Guardian Unlimited, 4 November 2000. Isabel Fonseca on her brother, painter Bruno Fonseca, who died in 1989.


Waisted WORD

The Times, 6 September 2003. Isabel Fonseca on trends in youth fashion. Note connections (and parallel phrasings) to Amis's novel Yellow Dog.


Select Essays by Louis Amis:

"A Cousin in the White House," Standpoing magazine, December 2008. LINK | PDF

"Odysseus Unbound," Standpoint magazine, October 2008. LINK | PDF

"It's Better in Latin," Standpoint magazine, August 2008. LINK | PDF

"Teaching Protection," Standpoint magazine, July 2008. LINK | PDF


Fernanda Amis on Harry Potter, The Guardian, 21 July 2007 LINK | PDF


The Old Devil WORD

By Toby Young. Sunday Times, 12 September 1993. On the breakdown of Martin Amis's first marriage; particularly unsympathetic.


On the Same Page LINK | PDF

Portrait of Amis's marriage to Isabel Fonseca by Ariel Leve. Wall Street Journal Magazine, 21 October 2010.





Amis turns 60, 25 August 2009

The Independent, 23 August 2009 LINK | PDF

Nicholas Lezard, 25 August 2009 LINK | PDF

Gallery of Amis Photos at the Guardian LINK


Early Relationship with Emma Soames

Emma Soames in the MailOnline, 6 June 2009 LINK | PDF


Early Relationship with Julie Kavanagh

Julie Kavanagh in the Telegraph, 2 June 2009 LINK | PDF

Kavanagh in More Intelligent Life mag., LINK | PDF | PDF

Allison Flood in the Guardian, 2 June 2009 LINK | PDF

Parody of the relationship by Private Eye LINK | JPG


The Martin Amis Gossip Will Go Away LINK | PDF

Jon Sutherland


Amis receives honorary doctorate LINK | PDF | JPG

From the University of Ulster, 11 July 2007.


"Go and make some coffee, John ..." WORD

The Independent, 27 June 2006. John Walsh reminisces about Jonathan Wordsworth, descendent of William as well as Amis's tutor at Oxford and the model for Charles Knowd in The Rachel Papers.


Amis & Uruguay WORD

Miscellanous Excerpts from interviews and articles.


After the Storm WORD

The Guardian, 3 October 1998. Stephen Moss on the changes in Amis's life leading up to the publication of Heavy Water (1998).