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Born in Darlinghurst, the same Sydney suburb where his Irish-born parents John and Johanna (nee Kelly) Brennan were married,
Martin C. Brennan was educated at Marist Brothers Sacred Heart School.
After leaving school he became interested in journalism, and in the
early 1900s established a friendship with Hal E. Stone. One of the key
figures in the Australian Amateur Press Association (AAPA), Stone had
moved from Melbourne to become secretary of the Sydney branch.
1905 Stone and Brennan had begun publishing the Association's magazine Ye Wayside Goose) through Presse of Ye Wayside Goose(akaThe Wayside Presse). Lurline Stuart records that the first issue included the programme for the first
convention along with a selection of short stories and poems (p.75). During this period they also collaborated on Camp 3-of-Us: Ye Chap Booke of Ye Prynter Men of Ye Lyterarye Tribe Knowne as Ye Mia-mias, Wherein is Set Forth All Ye Happenings at Ye Happy Hunting Grounds of Stanwell Park Ye Chief, which recounts the story of a camping holiday at Stanwell Park, N.S.W. Written under the names Ye Chief (Stone) and Ye Medicine Man (Brennan), the book is illustrated by 'Ye Maker of Quaint Pictures' (Sam G. Goddard).
Brennan eventually turned his journalistic attention towards the entertainment industry, having developed a passion for variety theatre during his childhood. In this respect he was later referred to as 'the encyclopaedia of vaudeville' (Townsville Daily Bulletin 13 November 1937, p. 7). By 1910 he had become a regular vaudeville columnist for Footlights, and was appointed the Australian representative of the US entertainment magazine Variety. This provided him with the opportunity to expand his interests into other areas, including acting as a representative for touring American acts like Hebrew comedy delineators Joe Hayman and Mildred Franklin.
In 1913 Brennan established Australian Variety, engaging Harry R. Kitching as its founding editor. Following a change of name in 1916, to Australian Variety and Show World, Brennan went into partnership as co-editor and co-publisher with bookmaker/theatre lessee and producer Andy Kerr, before merging the magazine with Everyone's (the 'motion picture authority) in 1920. Brennan remained editor of Everyone's until 1926, at which time he established a competing magazine Film Weekly.
In April 1930 Brennan, his wife, Eileen and brother Frederick joined
several other subscribers in raising £5,000 to purchase The Film Weekly
Ltd for the purposes of publishing a range of newspapers and magazines.
Martin Brennan died in St Vincent's Hospital on 6 November 1937 after a long illness. He was survived by his wife, two daughter and son Kevin, (1920-1998), who went on to carve out a long
and successful career as a stage, radio, film and television actor. Brennan was also survived by his magazine, Film Weekly, which continued to be published up until 1973.
In addition to being the Australian representative of the US Variety for some 25 years, Brennan was associated English theatrical publications Encore, Era and Performer. He was also involved with the Amateur Magicians Club (serving for many years as its president), a life member of City Tattersall's Club, and a member of the Forty-Seven Club (a group of motion picture executives.
Martin Brennan was the nephew of policeman/author Martin Brennan (1839-1912).
The name Wayside Press likely came from Stone's association with the Melbourne-based group, The Waysiders, which had banded together around the turn of the century for the 'purposes of worshipping nature, loving the beautiful and breathing God's pure air' (Lurline, p.75).
The professional relationship between Brennan and Harry Kitching continued for well over a decade and a half, with the Register (Adelaide) reporting in 1928 that Kitching was acting as Brennan's personal representative throughout Australia (1 June 1928, p.7).
Stuart, Lurline. 'Early Twentieth-Century Australian Periodicals: A Preliminary Survey.' In Australasian Serials: Current Developments in Bibliography. Eds. Toby Burrows and Carol Mills. Binghamton, New York: Haworth Press, 1991.