Matt Warshaw was born in Los Angeles, began riding waves in 1969, and had a brief, undistinguished, resume-padding career as a pro surfer during the early 1980s. He worked at SURFER Magazine for six years, and became editor in 1990. Quitting what has been called "the best job in surfing," Warshaw enrolled at UC Berkeley, and in 1993 took a BA in History, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. He continued to write, and published articles in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Esquire, Interview, and Outside.
Warshaw has written eight books since 1997, including the Encyclopedia of Surfing ("A living, breathing masterpiece," according to Salon.com), and the History of Surfing. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin wrote that "Warshaw has written more cogent words about surfing than any other human," and the UK's Independent added that "the author appears to have attained total omniscience in his field." In 2013, Warshaw launched the Encyclopedia of Surfing website.
Warshaw lives in Seattle with his wife and son.