British author Kingsley Amis is born to a lower-middle-class clerk and his wife.
Amis’ mother encouraged him to write at an early age, and he later attended Oxford, where he was known as an outspoken radical. In World War II, he served with the Royal Corps of Signals and later joined the faculty of Swansea University in South Wales. He married in 1949, the same year his son, Martin Amis, was born. Martin would grow up to become a famous novelist in his own right.
Amis’ experiences as a professor helped inspire his first and most popular novel, Lucky Jim (1954). The book marked him as part of England’s Angry Young Man movement, consisting of upwardly mobile, lower-class writers condemning England’s class system. The book, a comic masterpiece satirizing academic life, made Amis a household name during the 1950s. The book was made into a movie in 1957.
Although his first novel remains his best-known work, Amis wrote more than 40 books during his career, including about 20 novels and six volumes of poetry. He spent a year teaching at Princeton University in New Jersey and later became a fellow at Cambridge. His 1986 book, The Old Devils, won the coveted Booker Prize. Known for his curmudgeonly manner, Amis was knighted in 1990 and published his caustic autobiography, Memoirs, in 1991. Amis died in 1995.