Biography (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Ray Bradbury was born in Waukegan, Illinois, on August 22, 1920, the son of Leonard Bradbury and Esther Moberg Bradbury. One of his older twin brothers died before his birth, and a younger sister, Elizabeth, died in infancy when he was seven.
Despite economic problems that took his family twice to Arizona in search of work, and despite the deaths of two siblings, Bradbury’s memory of his early years is positive. In Dandelion Wine (1957) and other works, his boyhood home in Waukegan becomes Green Town, an idyllic if somewhat fragile midwestern town, where children enjoy the pleasures of playmates their age balanced with the opportunity for solitary explorations of a surrounding countryside.
In 1934, the family moved permanently to Los Angeles, where Bradbury soon adapted to his second beloved home. Los Angeles attracted him, in part, because it was a center of the entertainment industry which Bradbury had loved since at least the age of three, when he saw the 1923 film The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Throughout his life, Bradbury devoured the fiction of wonder and adventure: radio, motion pictures, comic books, pulp and slick magazines, and the novels of such authors as Edgar Rice Burroughs and Jules Verne. At the age of twelve, he and a friend found themselves unable to await the next sequel in Burroughs’s Mars series and, therefore, wrote their own.
Bradbury had begun writing stories and poems as soon as he learned how to write. He made his first sale as a teenager, contributing a sketch to the George Burns and Gracie Allen radio comedy show. In high school, he also developed an interest in theater that continued throughout his writing career.
After finishing high school, Bradbury plunged into writing, trying to make himself quickly into a professional. He joined a science-fiction organization, studied with science-fiction writer Robert Heinlein, and worked with several other successful pulp fiction and screenwriters. He set himself the task of writing a story a week, while living at home and earning money selling newspapers. His first published story was “Hollerbochen’s Dilemma,” which appeared in Imagination! in 1938. He wrote his first paid science-fiction story, “Pendulum,” in collaboration with Henry Hasse, and it appeared in Super Science Stories in 1941. Soon Bradbury was publishing regularly in pulp magazines such as Weird Tales.
When he married Marguerite...
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Biography (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Throughout his career, Bradbury has exhibited both an enthusiasm for experience and an awareness of the weaknesses that repeatedly bring humanity to the brink of self-extinction; those elements are the hallmarks of his fiction. In his science fiction and in the fantasies based on his childhood, Bradbury has produced a memorable and influential body of writing, notably in The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451. With moving and imaginative stories told in a lively, poetic style, he brought American science fiction and fantasy to the attention of a mass audience, helping to make possible a renaissance in these genres.
Biography (Critical Survey of Short Fiction, Second Revised Edition)
Ray Douglas Bradbury often makes use of his own life in his writings, and he insisted that he had total recall of the myriad experiences of his life through his photographic—some would say eidetic—memory: He stated that he always had vivid recollections of the day of his birth, August 22, 1920, in Waukegan, Illinois. Leonard Spaulding Bradbury, his father, was a lineman with the Bureau of Power and Light (his distant ancestor Mary Bradbury was among those tried for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts); Esther Marie (née Moberg) Bradbury, his mother, had emigrated from Sweden to the United States when she was very young. A child with an exceptionally lively imagination, Ray Bradbury amused himself with his fantasies but experienced anguish from his nightmares. His mother took him to his first film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), when he was three years old, and he was both frightened and entranced by Lon Chaney’s performance. This experience originated his lifelong love affair with motion pictures, and he wrote that he could remember the scenes and plots of all the films that he ever attended.
As he grew up, Bradbury passed through a series of passions that included circuses, dinosaurs, and Mars (the latter via the writings of Edgar Rice Burroughs). Neva Bradbury, an aunt, assisted his maturation as a person and writer by introducing him to the joys of fairy tales, L. Frank Baum’s Oz books, live theater, and the stories of Edgar Allan Poe. In Bradbury’s own view, the most important event in his childhood occurred in 1932 when a carnival came to town. He attended the performance of a magician, Mr. Electrico, whose spellbinding act involved electrifying himself to such an extent that sparks jumped between his teeth and every white hair on his head stood erect. Bradbury and the magician became friends, and their walks and talks along the Lake Michigan shore behind the carnival so energized his imagination that, a few weeks after this encounter, he began to compose stories for several hours a day. One of his first efforts was a sequel to a Martian novel of Burroughs.
During the Depression, Bradbury’s father had difficulty finding work, and in...
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Biography (Critical Survey of Long Fiction, Fourth Edition)
Ray Douglas Bradbury was born on August 22, 1920, in Waukegan, Illinois. His father, Leonard Spaulding Bradbury, whose distant ancestor Mary Bradbury was among those tried for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts, in the seventeenth century, was a lineman with the Waukegan Bureau of Power and Light; his mother, Esther Marie (née Moberg) Bradbury, emigrated to the United States from Sweden when she was a child. When he was three years old, his mother took him to his first film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), and he was frightened and entranced by Lon Chaney’s performance in this film and, later, in The Phantom of the Opera (1925). As a child, Bradbury passed through a series of enthusiasms, from monsters to circuses to dinosaurs and eventually to the planet Mars. His development through childhood was aided by an older brother and by an aunt, Neva Bradbury, a costume designer, who introduced him to the theater and to the stories of Edgar Allan Poe.
In 1932, Bradbury’s family moved to Arizona, where they had previously spent some time in the mid-1920’s, largely because of his father’s need to find work. In 1934 the family left behind both Arizona and Waukegan, settling in Los Angeles, which became Bradbury’s permanent home. He attended Los Angeles High School and joined the Science Fiction Society (he had earlier begun reading Hugo Gernsback’s magazine Amazing Stories, which, he said, made him fall in love with the future). After graduation, Bradbury worked for several months in a theater group sponsored by the actor Laraine Day, and for several years he was a newsboy in downtown Los Angeles. He took these jobs to support his writing, an avocation that he hoped would soon become a vocation.
His poor eyesight prevented him from serving in the military during World War II, which left him free to launch his writing career. During the early 1940’s he began to publish his stories in such pulp magazines as Weird Tales and Amazing Stories, but by the late 1940’s his work was appearing in such mass-market magazines as...
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Ray Douglas Bradbury used his elegiac short stories, often in the genres of fantasy and science fiction, to comment on the beguiling power of the imagination and the dehumanizing pressures of technocracies. Bradbury was born to Leonard Spaulding Bradbury, a lineman with the Waukegan Bureau of Power and Light, and Esther Marie (Moberg) Bradbury, who had emigrated as a child from Sweden. Bradbury’s older brother later appeared in fictionalized form in his stories.
The most important event of Bradbury’s childhood occurred when he was twelve years old and a carnival came to town for the Labor Day weekend. After attending...
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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.
IntroductionWhen all is said and done, when all the pens have run dry and all the computers are unplugged, Ray Bradbury will remain literature’s favorite bogeyman. Despite an incredibly prolific career that spans countless styles, formats, and genres, Bradbury is best known for his creepier tales. Whether chronicling the spooky carnival in Something Wicked This Way Comes or the nightmarish society of Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury had a knack for tapping into very real human fears—paranoia, solitude, abandonment, death. Surprisingly, Bradbury often shrugged off his sci-fi reputation because he believed his tales, no matter how sinister, often had some basis in reality. So, yes, the monsters under your bed just might be real after all.
- Of the numerous adaptations of Ray Bradbury’s works into film and television, one of the earliest was It Came From Outer Space, a minor classic of the 1950s science-fiction genre.
- From 1985 to 1992, Bradbury hosted The Ray Bradbury Theater, a serial television show based on his short stories.
- Although mostly associated with science fiction and the macabre, Bradbury has written family-oriented material like The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit.
- Despite its box office success and the political firestorm it instigated, the film Fahrenheit 9/11 angered Bradbury because director Michael Moore appropriated the title of Bradbury’s classic Fahrenheit 451 without asking permission.
- Bradbury became a member of the now-famous Clifton Cafeteria’s Science Fiction club, which included other notable writers such as Robert Heinlein.