'How to be British'. 

Martyn Ford is a British English-language teacher, writer and illustrator. He is best known as the illustrator and co-writer of 'How To Be British...', a series of humorous postcards and books about British culture, language and behavior. The cards and books offer a funny, but informative look on the British people, full with self-mockery. Many of Ford's illustrations are in the cartoon or comic format. Apart from books and postcards, he is also a stage performer, playing the comedy character Mrs. Joyce Hoover from Brighton, proving he too is a prototypical example of British eccentricity and comedy. He should not be confused with bodybuilder Martyn Ford (1982) or journalist/novelist Martyn Ford (1988).

Early life and career
Martyn Alexander Ford was born in Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands, England. He studied English Language at Leeds University and in 1983 became a teacher at the Eurocentres language school in Brighton. At university he met his future collaborator Peter Legon, who later became a teacher at Eurocentres too. Teaching at Eurocentres until 2000, Ford has since 2012 been associated with the University of Geneva, Switzerland. To master languages, Ford is particularly interested in the use of stage plays and re-enacting written dialogues. He is the author of 'Timesaver for Real!: English in Everyday Situations' (Mary Glasgow, 2007), a handbook for teachers to use in English-language classes. He additionally published 'Five Short Plays' (Oxford University Press, 2012), intended for the training of situational conversations in English. Besides English, he also speaks Italian and Turkish.

The two teaching colleagues Martyn Ford and Peter Legon collaborated on a series of humorous reflections on their home country. Both men write, but Legon takes care of publishing, while Ford provides illustrations. Their earliest project were a series of tourist postcards, presented in the form of hand-drawn cartoons. The cards promote the United Kingdom, while simultaneously poking fun at national stereotypes. One example, 'You Can Tell I'm British because...', depicts eight people explaining a stereotypical characteristic that proves their national identity. Some are positive, others negative, but it still concludes with a proud Briton saying: "I wouldn't live anywhere else!" Another card, 'Greetings from the... er, United Kingdom', shows a map of the country, but all the tiny people on it are ironically enough divided. Scots and Welshmen speak in a dialect intelligible to Englishmen, the people from Cornwall want independence and the Londoners are moneygrabbers. A Scot and Englishman quarrel near Hadrian's wall. People from Northern Great Britain and the South of the country dislike each other, while the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland are mortal enemies. Another British cartoonist who made humorous postcards about the United Kingdom is John Hughes-Wilson.

'Get Around in English. How to Complain'. 

How To Be British
Since the early 2000s, Ford and Legon have been expanding on their postcards about the eccentricities of British people by writing a series of similary themed books, all published by Lee Gone Publications. The first volume of their 'How To Be British' series was released in 2003, followed by a second one in 2005 and a third - titled 'Get Around in English' - in 2014. The 'How To Be British' books combine reliable information about the United Kingdom, its culture and its inhabitants with witty observations, illustrated by Ford's cartoons and comics. The books provide model dialogues, vital vocabulary and cultural context. In that regard these books are not intended for people only just mastering the language, but readers who have already reached a more advanced linguistic level. For those already skilled in English, the books are a recognizable, tongue-in-cheek analysis of the UK. Ford and Legon poke fun at the rainy weather, the terrible cuisine, arrogant English tourists and the British nature to complain about everything in private, but still stay polite in public. The best-known comic strip from this books can be read in volume 3, 'Get Around in English' (2014). Titled 'British Politeness', it shows a stereotypical British gentleman ignoring a drowning man who screams for help. Only when the victim uses the proper form of politeness - complete with elaborate apologies - he throws him a buoy.

Mrs. Joyce Hoover
Martyn Ford also performs as a comedic character in drag, appearing in public and on stage as Mrs. Joyce Hoover, a bespectacled old landlady from Brighton. In between her funny monologues, Mrs. Hoover sings comedic songs on her ukulele. Under the guise of this character, Ford and Legon published two books, 'Mrs. Joyce Hoovers How Do You Do?: A Quick 'N' Easy Guide to Britain and the British' (Lee Gone Publications, 2009) and the more elaborate companion piece, 'Mrs. Joyce Hoover's How To Be British: An Impractical Guide To The Country, Language and People'. Since 19 July 2009, Mrs. Hoover has her own official Facebook page.

Other books
In addition to his works about English language, Ford also published a book about Welsh history and culture, 'For Wales, See England: The Welsh Language, Identity and Nationhood' (Amberley, 2016). In 2021, Ford and Legon published 'Great English Tales' (Lee Gone Publications), a book with twelve folkloric and some historical tales from England's rich history and oral traditions.

Graphic contributions
Along with David Birdsall and David Woodroffe, Martyn Ford co-illustrated Clare West's 'Recycling Elementary English: With Key' (Cambridge University Press, 2002).

 'Brits Abroad'.

Series and books by Martyn Ford you can order today:


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