Adam Mars-Jones

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Adam Mars-Jones
Adam Mars Jones (8048688703).jpg
Mars-Jones at a 2012 book reading
Born (1954-10-26) 26 October 1954 (age 65)
London, UK
OccupationNovelist and literary critic
Notable work
Lantern Lecture (1981)
AwardsSomerset Maugham Award

Adam Mars-Jones (born 26 October 1954) is a British novelist and literary critic.

Early life and education[edit]

Mars-Jones was born in London, to Sir William Mars-Jones (1915–1999),[1][2] a Welsh High Court judge and a President of the London Welsh Trust, and Sheila Mary Felicity (1923–1999),[3] an attorney, daughter of Charles Cobon, a marine engineer.[4][2][5] Mars-Jones studied at Westminster School, and read Classics at Trinity Hall, Cambridge.


Mars-Jones is a regular contributor to The Guardian, The Observer, The Times Literary Supplement, and the London Review of Books. He also participated in BBC Television's Newsnight Review.

His first collection of stories, Lantern Lecture (1981), won a Somerset Maugham Award. Other works include Monopolies of Loss (1992) and The Darker Proof: Stories from a Crisis (1987), which was co-written with Edmund White. His first novel, The Waters of Thirst, was published in 1993. His essay "Venus Envy", a polemic against Martin Amis, was originally published in the CounterBlasts series in 1990. Pilcrow (2008) was his second novel, followed by Cedilla in 2011. These two works form the first two parts of a projected trilogy.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2007.[6]

Noriko Smiling, a book concerning the Yasujirō Ozu-directed film Late Spring, was published in 2011.[7][8]

In 2012, he was awarded the inaugural Hatchet Job of the Year Award for his review of Michael Cunningham's By Nightfall.[9]

On 2 January 2015, Mars-Jones was captain of the winning team on Christmas University Challenge, representing Trinity Hall, Cambridge, who defeated Balliol College, Oxford, the University of Edinburgh and the University of Hull. His teammates were international rower Tom James, world champion cyclist Emma Pooley and actor Dan Starkey.[10]

Personal life[edit]

His 1997 "Blind Bitter Happiness" re-tells the difficult life of his mother and his relationship to her.[11] Mars-Jones' 2015 memoir of his father "Kid Gloves" deals with his father's struggle to come to terms with his son's homosexuality and his father's later slide into dementia in old age.[12] In 2019 Mars-Jones lives in South London.


Date Title
1981 Lantern Lecture
1987 The Darker Proof: Stories from a Crisis (with Edmund White)
1990 "Venus Envy"
1992 The Monopolies of Loss
1994 The Waters of Thirst
1997 "Blind Bitter Happiness"
2008 Pilcrow
2011 Cedilla
2011 Noriko Smiling[7]
2015 "Kid Gloves: A Voyage Round My Father"
2020 Box Hill[13]


  1. ^ Robertson, Geoffrey (12 January 1999), "Sir William Mars-Jones obituary", The Guardian.
  2. ^ a b Morton, James (25 January 1999). "Obituary: Sir William Mars-Jones". The Independent. UK. Retrieved 4 February 2011.
  3. ^ Who was Who, St Martin's Press, 1996, p. 386.
  4. ^ Graya: A Magazine for Members of Gray's Inn, issue 107, 1999, p. 110.
  5. ^ "Our Former Presidents: London Welsh Centre". London Welsh Centre website. London Welsh Centre. 2010. Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 4 February 2011.
  6. ^ "Royal Society of Literature All Fellows". Royal Society of Literature. Archived from the original on 5 March 2010. Retrieved 10 August 2010.
  7. ^ a b Mars-Jones, Adam (2011). Noriko Smiling. Notting Hill Editions.
  8. ^ Cozy, David (25 March 2012). "An unserious look at the work of Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu". Japan Times. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  9. ^ Mars-Jones, Adam (23 January 2011), "By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham – review", The Observer.
  10. ^ "University Challenge Victory". Trinity Hall, Cambridge. 2 January 2015. Archived from the original on 3 January 2015. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
  11. ^ "Blind Bitter Happiness" in Sons and Mothers, ed. Matthew and Victoria Glendinning, London, 1996, ISBN 1 86049 254 1
  12. ^ Kid Gloves: a Voyage Round my Father, London, 2015, ISBN 978 1 846 14875 0.
  13. ^ Cummins, Anthony (16 March 2020). "Box Hill by Adam Mars-Jones review – the mystery of love". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 May 2020.

External links[edit]