Ray Bradbury

(1920-2012), American

Ray Bradbury was born in Waukegan, Illinois, on August 22, 1920. By the time he was eleven, he had already begun writing his own stories on butcher paper. His family moved fairly frequently, and he graduated from a Los Angeles high school in 1938. He had no further formal education, but he studied on his own at the library and continued to write. For several years, he earned money by selling newspapers on street corners. His first published story was “Hollerbochen’s Dilemma,” which appeared in 1938 in Imagination!, a magazine for amateur writers. In 1942 he was published in Weird Tales, the legendary pulp science-fiction magazine that fostered such luminaries of the genre as H. P. Lovecraft. Bradbury honed his sci-fi sensibility writing for popular television shows, including Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone. He also ventured into screenplay writing (he wrote the screenplay for John Huston’s 1953 film Moby Dick). His book The Martian Chronicles, published in 1950, established his reputation as a leading American writer of science fiction.

In the spring of 1950, while living with his family in a humble home in Venice, California, Bradbury began writing what was to become Fahrenheit 451 on pay-by-the-hour typewriters in the University of California at Los Angeles library basement. He finished the first draft, a shorter version called The Fireman, in just nine days. Following in the futuristic-dustpan tradition of George Orwell’s 1984, Fahrenheit 451 was published in 1953 and became Bradbury’s most popular and widely read work of fiction. He produced a stage version of the novel at the Studio Theatre Playhouse in Los Angeles. The seminal French New Wave director François Truffaut also made a critically acclaimed film adaptation in 1967.

Bradbury received many awards for his writing and was honored in numerous ways. Most notably, Apollo astronauts named the Dandelion Crater on the moon after his novel Dandelion Wine. In addition to his novels, screenplays, and scripts for television, Bradbury wrote two musicals, co-written two “space-age cantatas,” collaborated on an Academy Award–nominated animated short called Icarus Montgolfier Wright, and started his own television series, The Ray Bradbury Theatre. Bradbury is acknowledged as one of the masters of the science-fiction genre. Although he is recognized primarily for his ideas and sometimes denigrated for his writing style (which some find alternately dry and maudlin), Bradbury nonetheless retains his place among important literary science-fiction talents and visionaries like Jules Verne, H. P. Lovecraft, George Orwell, Arthur C. Clarke, and Philip K. Dick.

Bradbury continued to write until the end of his life. He died in 2012 in Los Angeles, after an illness.

Ray Bradbury Quotes

Living at risk is jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down.

You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.

Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can't try to do things. You simply must do things.

Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall.

We are an impossibility in an impossible universe.

If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you, and you'll never learn.

Novels

The Martian Chronicles
1950
Fahrenheit 451
1953
Dandelion Wine
1957
Something Wicked This Way Comes
1962
The Halloween Tree
1972
Death Is a Lonely Business
1985
A Graveyard for Lunatics
1990
Green Shadows, White Whale
1992
Let’s All Kill Constance
2002
Farewell Summer
2006

Short Story Collections

Dark Carnival
1947
The Mummies of Guanajuato
1947
The Illustrated Man
1951
The Golden Apples of the Sun
1953
The October Country
1955
A Medicine for Melancholy
1959
The Day it Rained Forever
1959
The Small Assassin
1962
R is for Rocket
1962
The Machineries of Joy
1964
The Autumn People
1965
The Vintage Bradbury
1965
Tomorrow Midnight
1966
S is for Space
1966
Twice 22
1966
I Sing the Body Electric
1969
Ray Bradbury
1975
Long After Midnight
1976
The Fog Horn & Other Stories
1979
The Last Circus and the Electrocution
1980
Dinosaur Tales
1983
A Memory of Murder
1984
The Toynbee Convector
1988
The Parrot Who Met Papa
1991
Quicker Than the Eye
1996
Driving Blind
1997
One More for the Road
2002
Is That You, Herb?
2003
The Cat’s Pajamas: Stories
2004
A Sound of Thunder and Other Stories
2005
The Dragon Who Ate His Tail
2007
Summer Morning, Summer Night
2007
A Pleasure to Burn
2010

From the SparkNotes Blog