Whether he was a Fortean himself—well, that depends on how you define matters.
Martin Gardner was born 21 October 1914 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to James Henry Gardner, a petroleum geologist, and Willie Wilkerson Spiers. He had a younger brother and a younger sister. Gardner grew up on the Tulsa area. The family was fairly well off, employing servants and maids. As a youth, he developed an interest in puzzles and, around the age of ten, discovered Hugo Gernsback’s “Science and Invention”; he enjoyed Jules Verne and Sherlock Holmes, too, and when, in 1926, the first issue of “Amazing Stories” was advertised, he was a subscriber. Gardner also had an interest in magic.
He attended Central High School, in Tulsa, where he practiced both gymnastics and tennis. At some point, he had cataract surgery, which made continuing to play tennis difficult. While in high school, he gave his physics teacher the run of “Amazing Stories” that he had collected. In 1930, when he was not yet 16, his first published writing appeared, a letter to “Science and Invention” in April, and a magic trick in “Sphix,” the following month. He would go on to write something on the order of a hundred books over the rest of his long life, many of these collections of essays he wrote for a number of different publications on a wide range of topics. He also spent some time at the University of Central Oklahoma; the 1932 yearbook described him as “an able cartoonist with an adept mind for science.”