Octavia E Butler Biography & Facts
Octavia Estelle Butler (June 22, 1947 – February 24, 2006) was an American science fiction author and a multiple recipient of the Hugo and Nebula awards. In 1995, Butler became the first science-fiction writer to receive a MacArthur Fellowship.Born in Pasadena, California, Butler was raised by her widowed mother. Extremely shy as a child, Butler found an outlet at the library reading fantasy, and in writing. She began writing science fiction as a teenager. She attended community college during the Black Power movement, and while participating in a local writer's workshop, was encouraged to attend the Clarion Workshop, which focused on science fiction.She soon sold her first stories and by the late 1970s had become sufficiently successful as an author that she was able to pursue writing full-time. Her books and short stories drew the favorable attention of the public and awards soon followed. She also taught writer's workshops, and eventually relocated to Washington. Butler died of a stroke at the age of 58. Her papers are held in the research collection of the Huntington Library.
Octavia Estelle Butler was born in Pasadena, California, the only child of Octavia Margaret Guy, a housemaid, and Laurice James Butler, a shoeshine. Butler's father died when she was seven. She was raised by her mother and maternal grandmother in what she would later recall as a strict Baptist environment.Growing up in the racially integrated community of Pasadena allowed Butler to experience cultural and ethnic diversity in the midst of racial segregation. She accompanied her mother to her cleaning work, where the two entered white people's houses through back doors, as workers. Her mother was treated poorly by her employers.
From an early age, an almost paralyzing shyness made it difficult for Butler to socialize with other children. Her awkwardness, paired with a slight dyslexia that made schoolwork a torment, made Butler an easy target for bullies, and led her to believe that she was "ugly and stupid, clumsy, and socially hopeless." As a result, she frequently passed the time reading at the Pasadena Central Library. She also wrote extensively in her "big pink notebook". Hooked at first on fairy tales and horse stories, she quickly became interested in science fiction magazines, such as Amazing Stories, Galaxy Science Fiction, and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. She began reading stories by John Brunner, Zenna Henderson, and Theodore Sturgeon.
At the age of 10, Butler begged her mother to buy her a Remington typewriter, on which she "pecked [her] stories two fingered." At 12, she watched the telefilm Devil Girl from Mars (1954) and concluded that she could write a better story. She drafted what would later become the basis for her Patternist novels. Happily ignorant of the obstacles that a black female writer could encounter, she became unsure of herself for the first time at the age of 13, when her well-intentioned aunt Hazel said: "Honey ... Negroes can't be writers." But Butler persevered in her desire to publish a story, and even asked her junior high school science teacher, Mr. William Pfaff, to type the first manuscript she submitted to a science fiction magazine.After graduating from John Muir High School in 1965, Butler worked during the day and attended Pasadena City College (PCC) at night. As a freshman at PCC, she won a college-wide short-story contest, earning her first income ($15) as a writer. She also got the "germ of the idea" for what would become her novel Kindred. An African-American classmate involved in the Black Power Movement loudly criticized previous generations of African Americans for being subservient to whites. As Butler explained in later interviews, the young man's remarks were a catalyst that led her to respond with a story providing historical context for the subservience, showing that it could be understood as silent but courageous survival. In 1968, Butler graduated from PCC with an associate of arts degree with a focus in history.
Rise to success
Although Butler's mother wanted her to become a secretary in order to have a steady income, Butler continued to work at a series of temporary jobs. She preferred less demanding work that would allow her to get up at two or three in the morning to write. Success continued to elude her. She styled her stories after the white-and-male-dominated science fiction she had grown up reading. She enrolled at California State University, Los Angeles, but switched to taking writing courses through UCLA Extension.
During the Open Door Workshop of the Writers Guild of America West, a program designed to mentor minority writers, her writing impressed one of the teachers, noted science-fiction writer Harlan Ellison. He encouraged her to attend the six-week Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop in Clarion, Pennsylvania. There, Butler met Samuel R. Delany, who became a longtime friend. She also sold her first stories: "Childfinder" to Ellison, for his anthology The Last Dangerous Visions (eventually published elsewhere in 2014); and "Crossover" to Robin Scott Wilson, the director of Clarion, who published it in the 1971 Clarion anthology.For the next five years, Butler worked on the novels that became known as the Patternist series: Patternmaster (1976), Mind of My Mind (1977), and Survivor (1978). In 1978, she was finally able to stop working at temporary jobs and live on her writing. She took a break from the Patternist series to research and write a stand-alone novel, Kindred (1979). She then finished the Patternist series with Wild Seed (1980) and Clay's Ark (1984).
Butler's rise to prominence began in 1984 when "Speech Sounds" won the Hugo Award for Short Story and, a year later, Bloodchild won the Hugo Award, the Locus Award, and the Science Fiction Chronicle Reader Award for Best Novelette. In the meantime, Butler traveled to the Amazon rainforest and the Andes to do research for what would become the Xenogenesis trilogy: Dawn (1987), Adulthood Rites (1988), and Imago (1989). These stories were republished in 2000 as the collection Lilith's Brood.
During the 1990s, Butler worked on the novels that solidified her fame as a writer: Parable of the Sower (1993) and Parable of the Talents (1998). In 1995, she became the first science-fiction writer to be awarded a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowship, an award that came with a prize of $295,000.In 1999, after her mother's death, Butler moved to Lake Forest Park, Washington. The Parable of the Talents had won the Science Fiction Writers of America's Nebula Award for Best Science Novel, and she had plans for four more Parable novels: Parable of the Trickster, Parable of the Teacher, Parable of Chaos, and Parable of Clay. However, after several failed attempts to begin The Parable of the Trickster, she decided to stop work in the series. In later interviews, Butler explained that the research and writing of the Parable nove.... Discover the Octavia E Butler popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Octavia E Butler books.