Frank Herbert Biography & Facts
Franklin Patrick "Frank" Herbert Jr. (October 8, 1920 – February 11, 1986) was an American science fiction author best known for the 1965 novel Dune and its five sequels. Though he became famous for his novels, he also wrote short stories and worked as a newspaper journalist, photographer, book reviewer, ecological consultant, and lecturer.
The Dune saga, set in the distant future, and taking place over millennia, explores complex themes, such as the long-term survival of the human species, human evolution, planetary science and ecology, and the intersection of religion, politics, economics and power in a future where humanity has long since developed interstellar travel and settled many thousands of worlds. Dune is the best-selling science fiction novel of all time, and the entire series is considered to be among the classics of the genre.
Frank Patrick Herbert Jr. was born on October 8, 1920, in Tacoma, Washington, to Frank Patrick Herbert Sr. and Eileen (née McCarthy) Herbert. His rural upbringing involved spending a lot of his youth on the Olympic and Kitsap Peninsulas. He was fascinated by books and could read much of the newspaper before the age of five, had an excellent memory, and learned things quickly. He had an early interest in photography, and bought a Kodak box camera at age ten, a new folding camera in his early teens, and a color film camera in the mid-1930s. Because of an impoverished home environment, largely due to the Great Depression, he left home in 1938 to live with an aunt and uncle in Salem, Oregon. He enrolled in high school at Salem High School (now North Salem High School), where he graduated the next year. In 1939 he lied about his age to get his first newspaper job at the Glendale Star. Herbert then returned to Salem in 1940 where he worked for the Oregon Statesman newspaper (now Statesman Journal) in a variety of positions, including photographer.Herbert married Flora Lillian Parkinson in San Pedro, California, in 1941. They had one daughter, Penelope (b. February 16, 1942), and divorced in 1943. During 1942, after the U.S. entry into World War II, he served in the Navy's Seabees for six months as a photographer, but suffered an accidental head injury and was given a medical discharge. Herbert subsequently moved to Portland, Oregon where he reported for The Oregon Journal.After the war, Herbert attended the University of Washington, where he met Beverly Ann Stuart at a creative writing class in 1946. They were the only students who had sold any work for publication; Herbert had sold two pulp adventure stories to magazines, the first to Esquire in 1945, and Stuart had sold a story to Modern Romance magazine. They married in Seattle, Washington on June 20, 1946, and had two sons, Brian Patrick Herbert (b. June 29, 1947, Seattle, Washington) and Bruce Calvin Herbert (b. June 26, 1951, Santa Rosa, California d. June 15, 1993, San Rafael, California, a professional photographer and gay rights activist).In 1949 Herbert and his wife moved to California to work on the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat. Here they befriended the psychologists Ralph and Irene Slattery. The Slatterys introduced Herbert to the work of several thinkers who would influence his writing, including Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Karl Jaspers and Martin Heidegger; they also familiarized Herbert with Zen Buddhism.Herbert never graduated from university. According to his son Brian, he wanted to study only what interested him and so did not complete the required curriculum. He returned to journalism and worked at the Seattle Star and the Oregon Statesman. He was a writer and editor for the San Francisco Examiner's California Living magazine for a decade.
In a 1973 interview, Herbert stated that he had been reading science fiction "about ten years" before he began writing in the genre, and he listed his favorite authors as H. G. Wells, Robert A. Heinlein, Poul Anderson and Jack Vance.Herbert's first science fiction story, "Looking for Something", was published in the April 1952 issue of Startling Stories, then a monthly edited by Samuel Mines. Three more of his stories appeared in 1954 issues of Astounding Science Fiction and Amazing Stories. His career as a novelist began in 1955 with the serial publication of Under Pressure in Astounding from November 1955; afterward it was issued as a book by Doubleday titled The Dragon in the Sea. The story explored sanity and madness in the environment of a 21st-century submarine and predicted worldwide conflicts over oil consumption and production. It was a critical success but not a major commercial one. During this time Herbert also worked as a speechwriter for Republican senator Guy Cordon.
Herbert began researching Dune in 1959. He was able to devote himself wholeheartedly to his writing career because his wife returned to work full-time as an advertising writer for department stores, becoming the breadwinner during the 1960s. The novel Dune was published in 1965, which spearheaded the Dune franchise. He later told Willis E. McNelly that the novel originated when he was assigned to write a magazine article about sand dunes in the Oregon Dunes near Florence, Oregon. He got overinvolved and ended up with far more raw material than needed for an article. The article was never written, but it planted the seed that led to Dune. Another significant source of inspiration for Dune was Herbert's experiences with psilocybin and his hobby of cultivating mushrooms, according to mycologist Paul Stamets's account.Dune took six years of research and writing to complete and was much longer than other commercial science fiction of the time. Analog (the renamed Astounding, still edited by John W. Campbell) published it in two parts comprising eight installments, "Dune World" from December 1963 and "Prophet of Dune" in 1965. It was then rejected by nearly twenty book publishers. One editor prophetically wrote, "I might be making the mistake of the decade, but..."Sterling E. Lanier, an editor of Chilton Book Company (known mainly for its auto-repair manuals) had read the Dune serials and offered a $7,500 advance plus future royalties for the rights to publish them as a hardcover book. Herbert rewrote much of his text. Dune was soon a critical success. It won the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1965 and shared the Hugo Award in 1966 with ...And Call Me Conrad by Roger Zelazny.Dune was not an immediate bestseller. By 1968 Herbert had made $20,000 from it, far more than most science fiction novels of the time were generating, but not enough to let him take up full-time writing. However, the publication of Dune did open doors for him. He was the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's education writer from 1969 to 1972 and lecturer in general studies and interdisciplinary studies at the University of Washington (1970–1972). He worked in Vietnam and Pakistan as a social and ecological consultant in 1972. In 1973 he was director-photographer of .... Discover the Frank Herbert popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Frank Herbert books.