Biography of Ray Bradbury (1920-2012)
Ray Douglas Bradbury, the author of more than 500 published literary works, was born in Waukegan, Illinois, on August 22, 1920. Bradbury moved with his family to Tucson, Arizona, when he was 6, but returned to Waukegan the following year. In 1932, Bradbury's father lost his job and the family again moved to Tucson, only to return to Waukegan the next year. In 1934, when Bradbury was 14, the family moved permanently to Los Angeles, California. Mr. Bradbury last resided in Los Angeles, but regarded Waukegan as his hometown and used it as the setting of two of his novels, under the pseudonym of Green Town.
In his youth, Bradbury developed a love of magic and aspired to become a magician. Encouraged in his creativity by his family, Bradbury turned to writing at a young age, a profession at which many would argue he worked quite a bit of magic. In 1937, at the age of 17, Bradbury became a member of the Los Angeles Science Fiction League, through which he published his first work, a short lived science fiction fan magazine. Bradbury's first short story was published in Weird Tales when he was 20. This was the first of many professional publications of Bradbury's work, which includes Dark Carnival (1947), Martian Chronicles (1950), The Illustrated Man (1951), The Golden Apples of the Sun (1953), Dandelion Wine (1957), Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962), Death is a Lonely Business (1985), The April Witch (1987), Death Has Lost Its Charm (1987), The Toynbee Collector (1988), Graveyard for Lunatics (1990), Folon's Folon's (1990), Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity (1991), A Chrestomathy of Ray Bradbury: A Dramatic Selection (1991), and his most enduring work, Fahrenheit 451 (1953).
In addition to his numerous books and short stories, Bradbury wrote for years for both Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone. He wrote two musicals, produced dramatic presentations of a number of his novels, and wrote the screenplay for 1953's Moby Dick. His cable television show, The Ray Bradbury Theater, won numerous cable awards, and five of his novels (Fahrenheit 451, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, It Came from Outer Space, The Illustrated Man, and Something Wicked This Way Comes) have been made into major motion pictures. Bradbury was a consultant for the 1963 World's Fair and helped to design the Spaceship Earth ride at Disney World's EPCOT Center. Additionally, Mr. Bradbury worked as a consultant on city engineering and rapid transit.
Though Ray Bradbury is most widely regarded as a science fiction writer, he did not limit himself to that genre, and also produced works of drama and psychological realism. Furthermore, it would be unfair to classify much of Bradbury's more philosophical science fiction, Fahrenheit 451 included, within the genre of science fiction. Fahrenheit 451 is as much a work of social criticism, comparable to Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World, as a work of science fiction. Bradbury also wrote works of horror, fantasy, and mystery, and many of his works - particularly his short stories - rejected the supernatural entirely for themes of childhood wonder, love, nostalgia, and hope. Bradbury's work contributed to American literature on many levels, and he remains one of a very few authors who entertained both young and old alike.
Bradbury was the recipient of countless literary awards, including the O. Henry Memorial Award, the Benjamin Franklin Award, the Aviation-Space Writer's Association Award for best space article in an American Magazine, the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Science Fiction Writers of America Grand Master Award. In 2000, the National Book Foundation recognized him for his Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. And in his most unique and fitting recognition, the moon's Dandelion Crater was named after Bradbury's novel Dandelion Wine.
Mr. Bradbury, father of four daughters, Susan, Ramona, Bettina, and Alexandra, and grandfather of many, last resided in Los Angeles, where he continued to write and speak, enjoyed painting, and collected Mexican artwork. He suffered a stroke in 1999 but continued to publish books at a prodigious clip. His later works include The Homecoming (2006), Let's All Kill Constance (2002), and One More for the Road (2002), a collection of short stories. Though he was one of the preeminent science fiction writers of his generation, he was also a noted technophobe: he never drove a car, and he distrusted the internet, computers, and ATM machines.
When he passed away on June 5, 2012 at age 91, his position as one of the greatest science fiction writers, and writers of all time, was widely praised by many critics. Millions of fans paid tribute to him after his death, including President Obama, who said, "For many Americans, the news of Ray Bradbury's death immediately brought to mind images from his work, imprinted in our minds, often from a young age. His gift for storytelling reshaped our culture and expanded our world. But Ray also understood that our imaginations could be used as a tool for better understanding, a vehicle for change, and an expression of our most cherished values. There is no doubt that Ray will continue to inspire many more generations with his writing, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends." Across the globe, readers mourned and celebrated a prolific writer.