Frank Herbert grew up during the Depression era. His family practiced economy but never lacked food or shelter, even when his father was unemployed. In Washington State, where he lived on a farm, he helped catch and smoke salmon, jacklighted deer with his father to supplement their domestic meat supply, and apprenticed as a skin diver with an uncle who was introducing Japanese methods of oyster farming to the area. According to Herbert, this life offered rich experience.
By the age of eight, Herbert knew he wanted to be a writer. By his teens he was known to his contemporaries as an accomplished storyteller, thus following in the footsteps of his paternal grandmother, who could not read but commanded a great store of folk songs. Her songs and her Appalachian dialect introduced young Herbert both to oral literature and to the wide variation in human language.
During his high school years, Herbert was an avid reader and an enthusiastic member of the school newspaper staff. He substituted during the summer for vacationing reporters on the Tacoma Ledger. At nineteen, he graduated from high school and began his journalistic career as a reporter for the Glendale Star.
In 1940, he married Flora Parkinson, with whom he had a daughter, Penny. He enlisted in the Navy in 1941 but was released on a medical discharge shortly thereafter. In 1945, his first short story, “The Survival of the Cunning,” appeared in Esquire magazine. In the same year, Herbert moved to Seattle and took a job with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. For instruction in writing fiction, he attended classes for a year at the University of Washington, where he met...
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