Ray Bradbury Biography & Facts
Ray Douglas Bradbury (; August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012) was an American author and screenwriter. One of the most celebrated 20th-century American writers, he worked in a variety of modes, including fantasy, science fiction, horror, mystery, and realistic fiction.Bradbury was mainly known for his novel Fahrenheit 451 (1953) and his short-story collections The Martian Chronicles (1950) and The Illustrated Man (1951). Most of his best known work is speculative fiction, but he also worked in other genres, such as the coming of age novel Dandelion Wine (1957) and the fictionalized memoir Green Shadows, White Whale (1992). He also wrote and consulted on screenplays and television scripts, including Moby Dick and It Came from Outer Space. Many of his works were adapted into television and film productions as well as comic books.
The New York Times called Bradbury "the writer most responsible for bringing modern science fiction into the literary mainstream."
Bradbury was born on August 22, 1920, in Waukegan, Illinois, to Esther (née Moberg) Bradbury (1888–1966), a Swedish immigrant, and Leonard Spaulding Bradbury (1890–1957), a power and telephone lineman of English ancestry. He was given the middle name "Douglas" after the actor Douglas Fairbanks. Bradbury was related to the U.S. Shakespeare scholar Douglas Spaulding and descended from Mary Bradbury, who was tried at one of the Salem witch trials in 1692.Bradbury was surrounded by an extended family during his early childhood and formative years in Waukegan. An aunt read him short stories when he was a child. This period provided foundations for both the author and his stories. In Bradbury's works of fiction, 1920s Waukegan becomes "Green Town", Illinois.
The Bradbury family lived in Tucson, Arizona, during 1926–1927 and 1932–1933 while their father pursued employment, each time returning to Waukegan. While living in Tucson, Bradbury attended Amphi Junior High School and Roskruge Junior High School. They eventually settled in Los Angeles in 1934 when Bradbury was 14 years old. The family arrived with only US$40 (equivalent to $774 in 2020), which paid for rent and food until his father finally found a job making wire at a cable company for $14 a week (equivalent to $271 in 2020). This meant that they could stay, and Bradbury, who was in love with Hollywood, was ecstatic.Bradbury attended Los Angeles High School and was active in the drama club. He often roller-skated through Hollywood in hopes of meeting celebrities. Among the creative and talented people Bradbury met were special-effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen and radio star George Burns. Bradbury's first pay as a writer, at age 14, was for a joke he sold to George Burns to use on the Burns and Allen radio show.
Throughout his youth, Bradbury was an avid reader and writer and knew at a young age that he was "going into one of the arts." Bradbury began writing his own stories at age 11 (1931), during the Great Depression—sometimes writing on the only thing available: butcher paper.In his youth, he spent much time in the Carnegie Library in Waukegan, reading such authors as H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, and Edgar Allan Poe. At 12, Bradbury began writing traditional horror stories and said he tried to imitate Poe until he was about 18. In addition to comics, he loved the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan of the Apes, especially Burroughs' John Carter of Mars series. The Warlord of Mars impressed him so much that at the age of 12, he wrote his own sequel. The young Bradbury was also a cartoonist and loved to illustrate. He wrote about Tarzan and drew his own Sunday panels. He listened to the radio show Chandu the Magician, and every night when the show went off the air, he would sit and write the entire script from memory.As a teen in Beverly Hills, he often visited his mentor and friend science-fiction writer Bob Olsen, sharing ideas and maintaining contact. In 1936, at a secondhand bookstore in Hollywood, Bradbury discovered a handbill promoting meetings of the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society. Excited to find that others shared his interest, Bradbury joined a weekly Thursday-night conclave at age 16.Bradbury cited H. G. Wells and Jules Verne as his primary science-fiction influences. Bradbury identified with Verne, saying, "He believes the human being is in a strange situation in a very strange world, and he believes that we can triumph by behaving morally". Bradbury admitted that he stopped reading science-fiction books in his 20s and embraced a broad field of literature that included poets Alexander Pope and John Donne. Bradbury had just graduated from high school when he met Robert Heinlein, then 31 years old. Bradbury recalled, "He was well known, and he wrote humanistic science fiction, which influenced me to dare to be human instead of mechanical."In young adulthood Bradbury read stories published in Astounding Science Fiction, and read everything by Robert A. Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, and the early writings of Theodore Sturgeon and A. E. van Vogt.
The family lived about four blocks from the Fox Uptown Theatre on Western Avenue in Los Angeles, the flagship theater for MGM and Fox. There, Bradbury learned how to sneak in and watched previews almost every week. He rollerskated there, as well as all over town, as he put it, "hell-bent on getting autographs from glamorous stars. It was glorious." Among stars the young Bradbury was thrilled to encounter were Norma Shearer, Laurel and Hardy, and Ronald Colman. Sometimes, he spent all day in front of Paramount Pictures or Columbia Pictures and then skated to the Brown Derby to watch the stars who came and went for meals. He recounted seeing Cary Grant, Marlene Dietrich, and Mae West, who, he learned, made a regular appearance every Friday night, bodyguard in tow.Bradbury relates the following meeting (as an adult) with Sergei Bondarchuk, director of Soviet epic film series War and Peace, at a Hollywood award ceremony in Bondarchuk's honor:
They formed a long queue and as Bondarchuk was walking along it he recognized several people: "Oh Mr. Ford, I like your film." He recognized the director, Greta Garbo, and someone else. I was standing at the very end of the queue and silently watched this. Bondarchuk shouted to me; "Ray Bradbury, is that you?" He rushed up to me, embraced me, dragged me inside, grabbed a bottle of Stolichnaya, sat down at his table where his closest friends were sitting. All the famous Hollywood directors in the queue were bewildered. They stared at me and asked each other "Who is this Bradbury?" And, swearing, they left, leaving me alone with Bondarchuk ...
Bradbury's first published story was "Hollerbochen's Dilemma", which appeared in the January 1938 number of Forrest J. Ackerman's fanzine Imagination!. In July 1939, Ackerman and his girlfriend Morojo gave 19-year-old Bradbury the money to head to New York for the.... Discover the Ray Bradbury popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Ray Bradbury books.