Born on the 22nd of August. 1920, in Waukegan. Illinois, Raymond Douglas Bradbury spent his childhood in this small town located north of Chicago. Many of his stories are set in towns similar to Waukegan. As a young child he was exposed to the horror movies of the period, such as The Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Like Montag in Fahrenheit 451, the heroes of these stories are social outcasts. Many of the themes found in Fahrenheit 451 are related to Bradbury's early exposure to books by an aunt and his regular trips to the Waukegan Public Library with his brother. His family moved to Los Angeles in 1934, and Bradbury completed his education at Los Angeles High School, graduating in 1938. He began writing stories at the age of fifteen, and in 1937 he joined the Los Angeles Science Fiction League. In 1938 he published his first short story, "Hollerbochen's Dilemma." During the 1940s, Bradbury wrote for pulp magazines such as Weird Tales and Amazing Stories. His first collection of short stories, Dark Carnival, was published in 1947. Even these early fantasy stories reveal elements of Bradbury's concern for the value of human imagination.
When The Martian Chronicles was published in 1950, Bradbury was hailed as a sophisticated science fiction writer. While it is a collection of related stories set on Mars, critics often discuss the book as a novel. Bradbury uses the framework of the settling of Mars to present issues like censorship, technology, racism, and nuclear war. The book has been praised for its allegorical treatment of important social issues. Other collections of stories by Bradbury that have received critical attention are The Illustrated Man, published in 1951, and I Sing the Body Electric!, published in 1969. His other novels include Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962) and Dandelion Wine (1957). Many of his stories have been televised on shows like The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and the Ray Bradbury Theater. The sheer volume of Bradbury's science fiction writing guarantees his importance in that genre. Fahrenheit 451 remains one of his best known works. The human values he explores in that work and his many other writings also assures his place among the other noted writers of dystopias, or works that suggest negative futures where humanity is oppressed.
Bradbury married Marguerite Susan McClure in 1947, and they had four daughters. Among his numerous literary awards are the O. Henry Prize in 1947 and 1948 and a PEN Body of Work Award in 1985. Many of his stories have also been adapted to the theater and received drama awards. Besides short stories and novels, Bradbury has written for the theater, television, and film—including a noted adaptation of Herman Melville's Moby Dick for director John Huston—and has written more than a dozen volumes of poetry and many nonfiction essays, and has edited several collected stories by other writers.
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