On August 22, 1920, the American novelist Ray Bradbury, best known for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451, was born. Ray Bradbury has won every achievable writing award including the National Medal of Arts in 2004 and the National Book Foundation Medal in 2000.
At young age, Ray Bradbury started his interest in writing, theater and acting. Since his family moved to Los Angeles when he was 14, Bradbury could sneak into places where the glamorous people from Hollywood spent their time. Concerning literature, his early influences were more shaped by Edgar Allan Poe or Edgar Rice Burroughs. Especially Burroughs’ ‘John Carter, Warlord of Mars’ stayed in his memory, because he claims that this comic series was the reason why he began writing in the first place. Before moving to California, his family lived in Waukegan, Illinois where he spent much time in the local library reading Jules Verne or H.G. Wells, who later belonged to his major influences. During his school time, he continued writing and even though his teachers, who were aware of his great talent, wanted to support these interests, Bradbury never attended College.
“Libraries raised me. I don’t believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don’t have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.”
Ray Bradbury, 2009
Also it was a library were he wrote one of his most famous novels and one of the most influential dystopian novels of all times, ‘Fahrenheit 451’. The creation of the book cost a total of $9.80 due to the rental fees of the typewriters in the library. This novel was sold more than 5 million times and even though it was published 60 years ago its alarming story is still highly relevant and therefore depicts an important piece read by high school students and adults all over the world.
‘Fahrenheit 451’ might have been his most successful novel, but ‘The Martian Chronicles’ was the first he could publish. Actually ‘The Martian Chronicles’ were not supposed to be a novel at first. Bradbury early discovered his love for short stories and wrote brilliant pieces like ‘All Summer in Day’ or ‘The Flying Machine’. When he came to New York, trying to get some of his novels published, he was mostly rejected because the publishers were seeking for novels. His editor Walter Bradbury then suggested to combine his stories into an entire novel, which the publishers loved. The story discusses the human colonization of the planet Mars and their conflict with the native Martians. The book gained a great reputation and was adapted in movies, operas, and radio shows.
The fact that Ray Bradbury with his many published novels, and his numerous collections and short stories has shaped our society is undeniable. He was a great influence to Steven Spielberg, Steven King and the author Neil Gaiman, who tributed him after his passing in June 2012 and he was able to open the mind and its creativity of every one who read his works.
At yovisto academic search engine you can watch Ray Bradbury himself in a video talking about his life and love of writing in “Telling the Truth,” the keynote address of The Sixth Annual Writer`s Symposium by the Sea at San Diego University.
References and Further Reading
- The Martian Chronicles
Simon and Schuster, 2012
- Fahrenheit 451
Simon and Schuster US, 2012
- Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales
William Morrow Paperbacks, 2005
- Ray Bradbury Website
- Ray Bradbury Interview in Barnes and Noble
- A Literary Legend Fights for a Local Library in the New York Times
- Ray Bradbury in the Science Fiction Hall of Fame
- Ray Bradbury at Wikidata