Study Guide

Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury Biography

Biography (Masterpieces of American Literature)

ph_0111201187-Bradbury.jpgRay Bradbury. Published by Salem Press, Inc.
Ray BradburyRay BradburyImage via writersmug.com

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 McClure in 1947, he was a well-established writer, publishing more than a dozen stories each year. “The Big Black and White Game” appeared in Best American Short Stories in 1945, and “Homecoming” was selected for the O. Henry Awards Prize Stories of 1947. In the year of his marriage, Arkham House published his first story collection, Dark Carnival (1947); many of these stories were reprinted in the highly regarded collection The October Country (1955). From then on, his fiction was regularly recognized with awards and selected for anthologies. In 1949, the year the first of his four daughters was born, the National Fantasy Fan Federation selected him best author of the year.

Bradbury’s career continued to advance and then to diversify after 1949. The Martian Chronicles (1950) became one of the first science-fiction works to receive serious attention from the mainstream literary establishment when reviewer Christopher Isherwood praised it highly. (In 1977-1978, the play version would receive five Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards.) Then followed a pattern of publishing collections of stories interspersed with new novels and other activities that included screenplays, musical theater, drama, and poetry. His best-known fiction appeared before 1963: The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451 (1953), Dandelion Wine, Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962), and five collections of short stories. Each of the novels either grew from earlier published stories or was constructed of earlier stories worked together into a longer work. During this period, he also traveled to Ireland, where he worked on the screenplay for director John Huston’s 1956 film version of Herman Melville’s classic novel, Moby Dick (1851).

After 1963, Bradbury continued to publish short-story collections, but he devoted more of his energy to other areas, especially drama. His first collection of short plays, The Anthem Sprinters and Other Antics (1963), grew out of his six months in Ireland. He produced two shows based on his own works: The World of Ray Bradbury (1964) and The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit (1965). His other works in the 1960’s included a cantata and a film history of America for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Though his interests in fiction and drama continued into the 1970’s, he also turned his attention more decisively toward poetry, publishing three volumes and then collecting them into a single volume, The Complete Poems of Ray Bradbury (1982). During this period, he wrote much nonfiction prose for magazines ranging from Life to Playboy.

Film productions of Bradbury’s works include Fahrenheit 451 (1966), The Illustrated Man (1969), The Martian Chronicles (1980), and Something Wicked This Way Comes (1984). Of these adaptations, only French filmmaker François Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451 was widely praised by film critics. Many of Bradbury’s short stories have been adapted for television, some with great success. His own animated short film, Icarus Montgolfier Wright, was nominated for an Academy Award in 1962.

After 1980, Bradbury collected some of his early detective stories in A Memory of Murder (1984) and then published a detective novel, Death Is a Lonely Business (1985), and a gothic thriller set in Hollywood, A Graveyard for Lunatics (1990). In 1985, he began a series of adaptations of his own stories for a cable television series, The Ray Bradbury Television Theater. His awards include a life achievement award from the World Fantasy Convention (1977), a Gandalf “Grand Master” award at the Hugo Award Ceremonies of 1980, the Jules Verne Award (1984), the PEN Body of Work Award (1985), a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (2002), and the National Medal of the Arts (2004). His wife of fifty-six years, Marguerite, died in 2003, survived by Bradbury and their four daughters.

Bradbury’s achievements are mainly in fantasy and science fiction. His drama and film scripts have been well received, but his poetry has not. Continuing attention from literary scholars and cultural historians suggests that he will surely be remembered for the powerful and thoughtful storytelling that brought him to prominence in the 1950’s. Bradbury’s achievement opened a generation’s hearts and minds to the worlds of imagination and wonder in fantasy and science fiction, beginning an era of wide popularity for and of scholarly interest in genres that had been on the fringe of modern culture.

Ray Bradbury Biography (Masterpieces of American Literature)

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.

Ray Bradbury Biography (Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

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 1932 the family moved to Arizona, where they had previously spent some time in the mid-1920’s. Still in search of steady work, his father moved the family to Los Angeles, which was where Ray Bradbury attended high school and which became his permanent home. His formal education ended with his graduation from Los Angeles High School, but his education as a writer continued through his extensive reading and his participation in theater groups (one of which was sponsored by the actress Laraine Day). To support his writing, he worked as a newsboy in downtown Los Angeles for several years.

In World War II, Bradbury’s poor eyesight prevented him from serving in the army, but this disappointment gave him the freedom to pursue his career as a writer, and his stories began to be published in such pulp magazines as Weird Tales and Hugo Gernsback’s Amazing Stories. The high quality of Bradbury’s stories was quickly recognized, and he was able to get his new stories published in such mass-circulation magazines as Collier’s, The Saturday Evening Post, Harper’s Magazine, and Mademoiselle. Because of his success as a writer, he had the financial security to marry Marguerite Susan McClure in 1947 (they had met when she, a book clerk, had waited on him). The marriage produced four daughters.

By the early 1950’s, Bradbury, now recognized as an accomplished science-fiction and fantasy writer, began his involvement with Hollywood through an original screenplay that would eventually be released as It Came from Outer Space (1952). In the mid-1950’s, he traveled to Ireland in connection with a screenplay of Moby Dick that he wrote with John Huston (he later drew on his experiences with the Irish for several stories and plays that took his work in a new direction). Upon his return to the United States, Bradbury composed a large number of television scripts for such shows as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Suspense, and The Twilight Zone.

During the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, Bradbury moved away from science fiction, and his stories and novels increasingly focused on humanistic themes and his midwestern childhood. In the late 1960’s and throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s, Bradbury’s output of short and long fiction decreased, and his ideas found outlets in such literary forms as poems, plays, and essays. He also participated in a number of projects, such as “A Journey Through United States History,” the exhibit that occupied the upper floor of the United States Pavilion for the New York World’s Fair in 1964. Because of this display’s success, the Walt Disney organization hired him to help develop the exhibit Spaceship Earth for the Epcot Center at Disney World in Florida. He continued to diversify his activities during the 1980’s by collaborating on projects to turn his novel Fahrenheit 451 into an opera and his novel Dandelion Wine into a musical. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, he returned to some of the subjects and themes that had earlier established his reputation with the publication of short-story collections The Toynbee Convector, Quicker than the Eye, and Driving Blind, and the novels A Graveyard for Lunatics: Another Tale of Two Cities (1990) and Green Shadows, White Whale (1992).

Ray Bradbury Biography (Survey of Novels and Novellas)

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 Collier’s, the Saturday Evening Post, The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, and Mademoiselle. Because these magazines paid well, he was able, on September 27, 1947, to marry Marguerite Susan McClure, a former English teacher at the University of California in Los Angeles. He continued, during the 1950’s, to write for the pulp and mass-market magazines, and he routinely collected his stories for publication in books. In the mid-1950’s he traveled to Ireland in connection with a screenplay of Moby Dick that he wrote with John Huston. Upon his return to the United States, Bradbury composed a large number of television scripts for such shows as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Suspense, and The Twilight Zone. During the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, Bradbury’s stories and novels focused mostly on his midwestern childhood—for example, Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked This Way Comes, the latter his favorite book.

During the 1960’s and 1970’s, Bradbury’s output of fiction decreased, and his ideas found outlets in such forms as plays, poems, and essays. He also became involved in a number of projects such as “A Journey Through United States History,” the exhibit that occupied the upper floor of the United States Pavilion for the New York World’s Fair in the mid-1960’s. Because of this display’s success, the Walt Disney organization hired him to help develop the themes for Spaceship Earth, an important part of Epcot Center at Disney World in Florida. Bradbury also helped design a twenty-first century city near Tokyo. In the 1980’s he continued to diversify his activities by collaborating in projects to turn his novel Fahrenheit 451 into an opera and his novel Dandelion Wine into a musical, and he developed a series, Ray Bradbury Theater, that ran on cable television from 1986 to 1992 and has continued its influence on DVD.

In 1990 Bradbury published A Graveyard for Lunatics with the publishing house Alfred A. Knopf, but after 1992 Avon became his publisher because Bradbury was unhappy that Knopf had allowed several of his books to go out of print and had been dilatory in publishing his new works. Avon has kept his backlist in print and has brought out such short-story collections as Quicker than the Eye (1996) and Driving Blind (1997).

In 1999 a stroke temporarily interfered with Bradbury’s writing, and as he regained his ability to walk with a four-pronged cane, he also returned to creating stories, now aided by one of his daughters, who transcribed his telephone-dictated works. His poststroke novels include From the Dust Returned and Farewell Summer. As his health improved, he traveled to various ceremonies honoring him not just for his contributions to science fiction and fantasy but also to American literature. In 2004 he made news with his impassioned objection to the misuse of the title of his novel Fahrenheit 451 for the title of Michael Moore’s documentary film Fahrenheit 9/11. Deaths of family members and friends along with his own health problems have heightened Bradbury’s awareness of his own race with death, a theme that is prominent in his twenty-first century short stories and novels.

Ray Bradbury Biography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

ph_0111201187-Bradbury.jpgRay Bradbury. Published by Salem Press, Inc.

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 the performance of a magician, Mr. Electrico, who sat in an electric chair, causing sparks to jump between his teeth and every white hair on his head to stand erect, Bradbury and the magician became friends. Their walks and talks along the Lake Michigan shore behind the carnival so energized the boy’s imagination that, a few weeks after this encounter, he began to write stories for at least four hours a day, a practice that soon became a habit.

In 1932 his family moved to Arizona, where they had lived in the mid-1920’s, largely because of his father’s need to find work. In 1934 the family settled in Los Angeles, which became Ray Bradbury’s permanent home. He attended Los Angeles High School, where he became involved with theatricals and journalism, and he went to film theaters several times a week. He also wrote a thousand words a day and joined the Science Fiction League, where he met such professional writers as Henry Kuttner and Leigh Brackett, with whom he later collaborated. After graduating from high school in 1938 Bradbury worked for several months in a theater group sponsored by the actress Laraine Day and for several years as a newsboy in downtown Los Angeles. He took these jobs for subsistence while he dedicated most of his energy to writing. His early efforts owed much to William S. Burroughs, but as he grew older he began studying such writers as Thomas Wolfe and Ernest Hemingway. His own style reflected these influences, blending the clean colloquial rhythms of Hemingway and the rich poetic metaphors of Wolfe.

Bradbury’s poor eyesight prevented him from serving in the army during World War II, which left him free to launch his writing career. In the early 1940’s he submitted stories to such pulp magazines as Weird Tales and Amazing Stories. His first published story, “Pendulum,” a collaborative effort, appeared in 1941. His first independent sale, “The Piper,” appeared in Thrilling Wonder Stories in February, 1943, but was preceded into print by “The Candle,” which was published in the November, 1942, issue of Weird Tales. As a young writer he received stimulus by going to Los Angeles libraries and reading randomly until story ideas came tumbling into his mind. In 1945 he sold “The Big Black and White Game” to the prestigious American Mercury, and it was later republished in The Best American Short Stories of 1946. His stories soon began to appear regularly in such magazines as Collier’s, The Saturday Evening Post, The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, and Mademoiselle. These magazines paid well and allowed him to marry Marguerite Susan McClure, who at one time taught English at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and with whom he had four daughters.

Dark Carnival, Bradbury’s first book, resulted from the encouragement of August Derleth, a publisher of fantasy literature. This compilation of early horror stories also includes poetic portrayals of the lonely and the anguished. In his second book, he abandoned the grotesque for Mars. Until then he had been writing what seemed to be science-fiction stories but were in reality explorations of humanity in challenging settings. Because publishers wanted a Mars novel rather than a collection of Mars stories, Bradbury added narrative transitions to twenty-six of his stories and produced The Martian Chronicles, which established his reputation as a sophisticated stylist with a distinctive imagination. The Martian Chronicles, which many consider Bradbury’s best book, is a lyrical account of Earth’s colonization of Mars from 1999 to 2026. During the first two decades after publication, it sold more than three million copies, even though space science was revealing that Bradbury’s Mars, with its canals, water, and a breathable atmosphere, was possible only in fiction.

Bradbury’s best-known collection, The Illustrated Man, also dates from this period; several of the stories in that volume explore the threats posed by technology to human values. During the time that Bradbury worked on The Illustrated Man he published a story, “The Fireman,” in Galaxy Science Fiction, that he thought he could expand into a novel. A fire chief informed him that book paper first burns at 451 degrees Fahrenheit, which gave him the title. He wrote the novel in twenty days on a rental typewriter in the basement of the library at UCLA. Fahrenheit 451, which deals with a book-burning fireman in a future society, is only secondarily concerned with totalitarianism, technology, and censorship. At its core this novel is rooted in Bradbury’s deep love for libraries and books. Like The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451 is basically optimistic, for Montag, the book burner, ends up with other nonconformists memorizing the classic books that helped to create and nurture human civilization.

In the mid-1950’s Bradbury traveled to Europe in connection with a screenplay of Moby Dick that he wrote with renowned director and screenwriter John Huston. When Moby Dick appeared, several film critics lauded Bradbury’s work above Huston’s. Upon his return to the United States Bradbury began writing television scripts for such shows as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Suspense, and The Twilight Zone.

During the late 1950’s and early 1960’s Bradbury’s stories and novels centered more openly on his midwestern childhood, no longer camouflaged by a science-fiction or fantasy setting. Dandelion Wine is a nostalgic account of small-town life in the 1920’s, told through a delicate mixture of pleasant childhood memories and the unpleasant fears of loneliness and death. In Something Wicked This Way Comes, Bradbury’s favorite book, a father tries to save his son from the evil forces of a mysterious traveling carnival. These two novels can be read as the childhood and early-adolescent chapters of Bradbury’s ongoing fictional autobiography, a series of novels in which characters loosely based on the author himself at different ages serve as vehicles for reflections on the relationship of the imagination to life. Bradbury’s next three novels extended this series. In Death Is a Lonely Business a young writer of pulp fantasy and horror stories confronts the reality of death. A Graveyard for Lunatics is about a neophyte Hollywood screenwriter who must solve a gothic mystery played out in the studio back lots to arrive at an understanding of conflicts in his own life. Green Shadows, White Whale is loosely based on the contentious creative relationship that developed between Bradbury and Huston during the filming of Moby Dick.

After Something Wicked This Way Comes, Bradbury’s output of fiction decreased, and he turned to such forms as plays, poems, and essays. He had been fascinated by the theater since childhood, and in the 1960’s and 1970’s he devoted much of his time to adapting several of his stories into plays for his Pandemonium Theatre Company. Although most of his work was being produced in California, a few of his plays appeared Off-Broadway, including The World of Ray Bradbury Three: Fables of the Future. In the 1970’s he also began to write humorous poetry. Generally critics were not enthusiastic about Bradbury’s plays and poems, and in the 1980’s he continued to diversify his activities. He helped adapt Fahrenheit 451 into an opera and Dandelion Wine into a musical; he collaborated on the plans for Spaceship Earth for Walt Disney World in Florida; and he participated in designing a twenty-first century city near Tokyo.

Critics have found that Bradbury’s later output did not achieve the stature of his early work. His first story collections are recognized as having been immensely important for popularizing science fiction and lowering the barriers that isolated it from traditional literary forms. Unlike many pulp magazine writers, Bradbury was a careful craftsman sensitively attuned to the subtleties of language. He has been called America’s official science-fiction writer, the world’s greatest living science-fiction writer, the Norman Rockwell of science fiction, and the Walt Disney of science fiction, although a strong case can be made that Bradbury is not really a science-fiction writer at all: Isaac Asimov has shown that Bradbury’s stories about Mars are saturated with scientific incongruities and that they depict not possible futures but moral lessons for the present.

In fact, Bradbury is essentially a short-story writer and a romantic. Most of his books are short-story compilations, his novels are stitched-together short stories, and his plays are adapted short stories. His romanticism surfaces in the themes he often explores: the conflict between human vitality and machine control, between the creative individual and the conforming group, between the innocence of childhood and the corruption of adulthood, between the shadow and the light in every human soul.

Ray Bradbury Biography (Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Raymond Douglas Bradbury was born on August 22, 1920, in Waukegan, Illinois, to Leonard Spaulding and Esther Moberg Bradbury. He began his...

(The entire section is 231 words.)

Ray Bradbury Biography (Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Ray Bradbury was born August 22, 1920, in Waukegan, Illinois, where he spent his early years. During the Depression, his father, a power...

(The entire section is 461 words.)

Ray Bradbury Biography (Short Stories for Students)

Ray Bradbury was born August 22, 1920, in Waukegan, Illinois, where he spent his early years. During the depression, his father, a power...

(The entire section is 465 words.)

Ray Bradbury Biography (Short Stories for Students)

Ray Bradbury was born on August 22, 1920 in Waukegan, Illinois to Esther Moberg and Leonard Spaulding Bradbury. The family moved often during...

(The entire section is 445 words.)

Ray Bradbury Biography (Novels for Students)

Ray Bradbury Published by Gale Cengage

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.

Ray Bradbury Biography

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Ray Bradbury
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Introduction

When 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.

Essential Facts

  1. 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.
  2. From 1985 to 1992, Bradbury hosted The Ray Bradbury Theater, a serial television show based on his short stories.
  3. Although mostly associated with science fiction and the macabre, Bradbury has written family-oriented material like The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit.
  4. 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.
  5. Bradbury became a member of the now-famous Clifton Cafeteria’s Science Fiction club, which included other notable writers such as Robert Heinlein.

Ray Bradbury Biography (Novels for Students)

Ray Bradbury was born to Leonard Spaulding and Esther Moberg Bradbury on August 22, 1920, in Waukegan, Illinois. He spent his formative...

(The entire section is 501 words.)