John Martyn (schoolmaster)

John A. K. Martyn OBE (more commonly known as J. A. K. Martyn) (1903–1984), was an English schoolmaster, scholar, academic and a distinguished British Himalayan mountaineer.

John Martyn

John A. K. Martyn
Martyn during his retirement years
John A. K. Martyn

Died1984 (aged 80–81)
Alma materSt. John's College,
University of Cambridge
OccupationScholar, academic, schoolmaster
Known forSchoolmaster at Harrow School
Headmaster of The Doon School


In 1935, John Martyn accompanied Arthur Foot to India to establish the teaching staff of The Doon School, a newly opened boarding school for Indian boys.[1][2] Martyn had previously taught at Harrow School in England for ten years before he moved to India.[3] In Doon, he was given the post of Deputy Headmaster, which he kept till 1948. Shortly after the British withdrawal from India in 1947, Foot left Dehradun to take up the headship of Ottershaw School, and Martyn succeeded him to become the second headmaster of the Doon School.[4] Martyn served in Doon for 31 years, 18 of those as the Headmaster, thus becoming one of the longest serving schoolmasters in the school's history.

Apart from teaching, Martyn was very keen on mountaineering, and was part of the expedition team to Trisul with pioneers like Jack Gibson, Gurdial Singh and Nandu Jayal.[5][6][7] He, along with Jack Gibson, climbed Bandarpunch with Tenzing Norgay, who later became the first man to climb Mt. Everest.[8]

Honours and distinctionsEdit

Martyn was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 1958, and in 1983 Padma Shri, the fourth-highest civilian award in India, from the Government of India for his notable contributions to the establishment of the Doon School.[9] He was one of the few Englishmen to have been honoured by both the governments.[10] He was also a member of the famed Alpine Club.

After his death in 1984, his wife Mady Martyn wrote a book about him entitled Martyn Sahib, the story of John Martyn of the Doon School. In his honour, his wife and Martyn's friends set up John Martyn Memorial Trust in a village at the foothills of Himalayas called Salagaon. The trust runs a school for underprivileged children and provides free education to over 150 children.[11]

Martyn House, a holding-house for new students at Doon, was named after him.


  1. ^ Swapan Seth. "An educationist leads by example". Retrieved 5 March 2012.
  2. ^ Michael Shaw, In Search of Time Wasted: Peregrinations from Seil Island (AuthorHouse, 2008), p. 22
  3. ^ About John Martyn Archived 2 August 2012 at
  4. ^ "Dilsher Virk – Living John Martyn's legacy (dead link)". Retrieved 5 March 2012.
  5. ^ "Climb every mountain". The Hindu. 24 February 2002. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
  6. ^ "Early Years of Indian Mountaineering". Himalayan Club. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
  7. ^
  8. ^ IN MEMORIAM | Himalayan Club
  9. ^ "In Memoriam". Himalayan Club. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
  10. ^ "In Memoriam". Himalayan Club. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
  11. ^ About John Martyn – John Martyn Memorial Trust Archived 2 August 2012 at

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

Academic offices
Preceded by
Arthur Foot
Headmaster of The Doon School
Succeeded by
C. J. Miller