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I've had second jobs, but my first love was always writing books or short stories...I grew up reading science fiction, fantasy, horror and comic books, and my father called it all weird stuff.”

George R.R. Martin

George R.R. Martin

George R.R. Martin’s Northwestern Direction:

  • Earns bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from Medill
  • Teaches English and advises student newspaper at Clark College
  • Becomes a scriptwriter in Los Angeles
  • Publishes Game of Thrones, the first book in the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series
  • HBO debuts Game of Thrones to critical acclaim and record-setting ratings
  • The series’ fifth volume, A Dance with Dragons, is an immediate #1 New York Times bestseller and a major media event
  • Anticipation grows for the final two installments of the series

George R.R. Martin worked as a professional writer for decades before finding mainstream success and acclaim with his fantasy series, “A Song of Ice and Fire.” In the books, an epic saga of warring families vying for power, Martin applies the rigorous journalistic detail he learned at Northwestern to a fantastic world of his own creation.

Born and raised in Bayonne, New Jersey, Martin earned his bachelor’s in journalism from Northwestern in 1970 and published his first story in Galaxy Magazine shortly before finishing his master’s degree in 1971. He credits his time at Medill with improving his writing a “great deal.”

But the success of his series of novels, “A Song of Ice and Fire,” and their subsequent HBO adaptation, Game of Thrones has even surpassed the wildest expectations of one of the most inspired writers working today.

Martin characterizes his work as combining the “wonder and imagination of the fantasy novel with the kind of hard-edge realism that characterizes the best historical fiction.” Balancing the inventions of the novel with an expression of realism honed at Northwestern has proved a winning intersection. 

In 2005, Lev Grossman of Time magazine called Martin "the American Tolkien." And during the first season of “Game of Thrones” on HBO, Time named him to the "Time 100," a list of the "most influential people in the world."

"The HBO production is ironic," Martin says, "because for a decade I was always the writer whose first draft was ‘too long and too expensive.'…So when I returned to novels, I wrote something long and unproducible — a giant, epic story for my own satisfaction…and yet, here we are." 

Martin was inducted into the Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing Communications’ Hall of Achievement in May of 2015.

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