At a Glance
Ray Bradbury will remain literature’s favorite bogeyman when all is said and done, when all the pens have run dry and all the computers are unplugged. 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.
Facts and Trivia
- 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.
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...
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