JUDITH MARTIN Biography - People in the News and Media


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Name: Judith Martin                                                                     
Born: 13 September 1938                                                                 
Judith Martin (born September 13, 1938), better known by the pen                       
name Miss Manners, is an American journalist, author, and etiquette authority.         
Since 1978 she has written an advice column, which is distributed three times a         
week by United Features Syndicate and carried in more than 200 newspapers               
worldwide. In the column, she answers etiquette questions contributed by her           
readers and writes short essays on problems of manners, or clarifies the               
essential qualities of politeness.                                                     
Judith Martin writes about the ideas and intentions underpinning seemingly             
simple rules, providing a complex and advanced perspective, which she refers to         
as "heavy etiquette theory". Her columns, noted for their wit, humor, depth of         
analysis, and broad knowledge of history and customs and their applications to         
the problems of today, have been collected in a number of books. In her writings,       
Martin refers to herself in the third person, e.g. "Miss Manners hopes..."             
In a 1995 interview by Virginia Shea, Miss Manners said,                               
"You can deny all you want that there is etiquette, and a lot of people do in           
everyday life. But if you behave in a way that offends the people you're trying         
to deal with, they will stop dealing with you...There are plenty of people who         
say, 'We don't care about etiquette, but we can't stand the way so-and-so               
behaves, and we don't want him around!' Etiquette doesn't have the great               
sanctions that the law has. But the main sanction we do have is in not dealing         
with these people and isolating them because their behavior is unbearable."             
Before she began the advice column, she was a journalist, covering social events       
at the White House and embassies, then became a theater and film critic. Martin         
is a graduate of Wellesley College. She lived in various foreign capitals as a         
child, as her father, a United Nations economist, was frequently transferred.           
She was born and spent a significant amount of her childhood in Washington, D.C.,       
graduating from Georgetown Day School. She still lives and works in the nation's       
Martin was the recipient of a 2005 National Humanities Medal from President             
George W. Bush.                                                                         
On March 23, 2006, she was a special guest correspondent on The Colbert Report,         
giving her analysis of the manners with which the White House Press Corps spoke         
to the President.                                                                       
Some of Martin's writings were collected and set to music by Dominick Argento in       
his song cycle Miss Manners on Music.                                                   
Martin is known among Star Wars fans for her less-than-adulatory review of Star         
Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, which she referred to as a "good junk         
movie" with "no plot structure, no character...development, no...original vision       
of the future".