Judith Martin

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Judith Martin
Judith Martin in 2014
Judith Martin in 2014
BornJudith Perlman
(1938-09-13) September 13, 1938 (age 85)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Alma materWellesley College

Judith Martin (née Perlman; born September 13, 1938[1]), better known by the pen name Miss Manners, is an American columnist, author, and etiquette authority.

Early life and career[edit]

Martin is the daughter of Helen and Jacob Perlman, both Jewish. Her father was born in 1898 in Białystok, then part of the Russian Empire, now in Poland. He immigrated to the United States in 1912. In 1925, he received his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin, in economics. Jacob married Helen Aronson in 1935, and they moved to Washington, D.C., where Martin was born in 1938.[2]

Martin spent a significant part of her childhood in Washington, where she still lives and works, graduating from Jackson-Reed High School Class of 1955. She lived in various foreign capitals as a child, as her father, a United Nations[3] economist, was frequently transferred. Martin graduated from Wellesley College[1] with a degree in English. Before she began the advice column, she was a journalist, covering social events at the White House and embassies; she then became a theater and film critic.

"Miss Manners"[edit]

In 1978, Martin began writing an advice column, which was distributed three and later six times a week by Universal Uclick 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.

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 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, Martin 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...[4]

Martin identifies "blatant greed" as the most serious etiquette problem in the United States.[5] The most frequently asked question she receives is how to politely demand cash from potential gift-givers (which she answers by stating that there is no polite way to do this), and the second most common question is how much potential guests must spend on a gift (determined by what the giver can afford, not by the event, relationship, related expenses or other factors).[6]

On August 29, 2013, Martin's children, Nicholas and Jacobina, began sharing credit for her columns.[7]


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.[8]

Some of Martin's writings were collected and set to music by Dominick Argento in his song cycle Miss Manners on Music.[9]

Since its launch in 2008, Judith Martin has been a contributor for wowOwow, a Web site for women to talk culture, politics, and gossip.[10]

Martin's uncle was economist and labor historian Selig Perlman.

Martin was portrayed by Broadway theatre actress Jessie Mueller[11] in The Post, Steven Spielberg's 2017 movie about the Pentagon Papers.


  • The Name on the White House Floor
  • Gilbert (This was subtitled "A Comedy Of Manners," and was a work of fiction.)
  • Style and Substance
  • Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior
  • Miss Manners Rescues Civilization: From Sexual Harassment, Frivolous Lawsuits, Dissing and Other Lapses in Civility
  • Miss Manners on Weddings
  • Miss Manners' Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding with Jacobina Martin
  • Miss Manners on Painfully Proper Weddings
  • Common Courtesy: In Which Miss Manners Solves the Problem That Baffled Mr. Jefferson
  • Miss Manners' Guide for the Turn-of-the-Millennium
  • Miss Manners' Basic Training: Communication
  • Miss Manners' Basic Training: The Right Thing To Say
  • Miss Manners' Basic Training: Eating
  • Miss Manners' Guide to Rearing Perfect Children[12]
  • Star-Spangled Manners
  • Miss Manners' Guide to Domestic Tranquility: The Authoritative Manual for Every Civilized Household, However Harried
  • Miss Manners: A Citizen's Guide to Civility
  • No Vulgar Hotel: The Desire and Pursuit of Venice
  • Miss Manners Minds Your Business with Nicholas Ivor Martin
  • Miss Manners' Guide to Contagious Etiquette with Nicholas Martin and Jacobina Martin

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Sam G. Riley (1995). Biographical dictionary of American newspaper columnists. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 198. ISBN 978-0-313-29192-0.
  2. ^ Williams, Paul (1 March 2012). "The House History Man: Mystery: Miss Manners Childhood Home in AU Park?".
  3. ^ No Vulgar Hotel, p. 18.
  4. ^ "In Depth: Miss Manners' Guide to Internet Behavior". Computerworld: 87. March 6, 1995. Retrieved October 28, 2021.
  5. ^ Childs, Arcynta Ali (July–August 2011). "Q and A with Miss Manners". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
  6. ^ Miss Manners (28 September 2012). "There are worthier causes than underwriting others' weddings". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 10 October 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
  7. ^ Miss Manners (29 August 2013). "Workplace gripes are often a play for sympathy". St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  8. ^ "Miss Manners - The Colbert Report | Comedy Central US". Comedy Central. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  9. ^ Argento excerpt Archived 2008-02-02 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Martin, Judith. "No-Hassle Nuptials: How to Have a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding". wowOwow. Retrieved 4 August 2011.
  11. ^ "Jessie Mueller Will Make Her Feature Film Debut in Steven Spielberg's The Post - Playbill". Playbill.
  12. ^ Briefly reviewed in The New Yorker (14 January 1985) : 119.

External links[edit]