Edward S. Martin was born in 1856 on his grand-uncle Enos T. Throop's estate "Willowbrook" near Auburn, New York. The youngest son in his parents' large and socially prominent family, Edward S. Martin completed his secondary education in 1872 at Phillips Academy and in 1877 graduated with a bachelor's degree from Harvard University, where in 1876 he was one of the founders of the Harvard Lampoon.
In 1883 he became the first literary editor of Life Magazine; from 1887 to 1933 he was the chief editorial writer for Life Magazine. From 1920 to 1935 he wrote the column "Easy Chair" for Harper's Magazine.
In 1884 he was admitted to the bar at Rochester, New York. From 1885 to 1893 he was Assistant Editor for the Rochester Union and Advertiser. In 1896 he moved with his family to New York City. In 1886, he married and in 1907 three children from the marriage were alive.