Ursula K Le Guin Biography & Facts
Ursula Kroeber Le Guin (; October 21, 1929 – January 22, 2018) was an American author best known for her works of speculative fiction, including science fiction works set in her Hainish universe, and the Earthsea fantasy series. She was first published in 1959, and her literary career spanned nearly sixty years, producing more than twenty novels and over a hundred short stories, in addition to poetry, literary criticism, translations, and children's books. Frequently described as an author of science fiction, Le Guin has also been called a "major voice in American Letters". Le Guin herself said she would prefer to be known as an "American novelist".Le Guin was born in Berkeley, California, to author Theodora Kroeber and anthropologist Alfred Louis Kroeber. Having earned a master's degree in French, Le Guin began doctoral studies but abandoned these after her marriage in 1953 to historian Charles Le Guin. She began writing full-time in the late 1950s and achieved major critical and commercial success with A Wizard of Earthsea (1968) and The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), which have been described by Harold Bloom as her masterpieces. For the latter volume, Le Guin won both the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novel, becoming the first woman to do so. Several more works set in Earthsea or the Hainish universe followed; others included books set in the fictional country of Orsinia, several works for children, and many anthologies.
Cultural anthropology, Taoism, feminism, and the writings of Carl Jung all had a strong influence on Le Guin's work. Many of her stories used anthropologists or cultural observers as protagonists, and Taoist ideas about balance and equilibrium have been identified in several writings. Le Guin often subverted typical speculative fiction tropes, such as through her use of dark-skinned protagonists in Earthsea, and also used unusual stylistic or structural devices in books such as the experimental work Always Coming Home (1985). Social and political themes, including race, gender, sexuality, and coming of age were prominent in her writing. She explored alternative political structures in many stories, such as in the philosophical short story "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" (1973) and the anarchist utopian novel The Dispossessed (1974).
Le Guin's writing was enormously influential in the field of speculative fiction, and has been the subject of intense critical attention. She received numerous accolades, including eight Hugos, six Nebulas, and twenty-two Locus Awards, and in 2003 became the second woman honored as a Grand Master of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. The U.S. Library of Congress named her a Living Legend in 2000, and in 2014, she won the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Le Guin influenced many other authors, including Booker Prize winner Salman Rushdie, David Mitchell, Neil Gaiman, and Iain Banks. After her death in 2018, critic John Clute wrote that Le Guin had "presided over American science fiction for nearly half a century", while author Michael Chabon referred to her as the "greatest American writer of her generation".
Childhood and education
Ursula K. Le Guin was born Ursula Kroeber in Berkeley, California, on October 21, 1929. Her father, Alfred Louis Kroeber, was an anthropologist at the University of California, Berkeley. Le Guin's mother, Theodora Kroeber (born Theodora Covel Kracaw), had a graduate degree in psychology, but turned to writing in her sixties, developing a successful career as an author. Among her works was Ishi in Two Worlds (1961), a biographical volume about Ishi, an Indigenous American who became the last known member of the Yahi tribe after the rest of its members were killed by white colonizers.Le Guin had three older brothers: Karl, who became a literary scholar, Theodore, and Clifton. The family had a large book collection, and the siblings all became interested in reading while they were young. The Kroeber family had a number of visitors, including well-known academics such as Robert Oppenheimer; Le Guin would later use Oppenheimer as the model for Shevek, the physicist protagonist of The Dispossessed. The family divided its time between a summer home in the Napa Valley, and a house in Berkeley during the academic year.Le Guin's reading included science fiction and fantasy: she and her siblings frequently read issues of Thrilling Wonder Stories and Astounding Science Fiction. She was fond of myths and legends, particularly Norse mythology, and of Native American legends that her father would narrate. Other authors she enjoyed were Lord Dunsany and Lewis Padgett. Le Guin also developed an early interest in writing; she wrote a short story when she was nine, and submitted her first short story to Astounding Science Fiction when she was eleven. The piece was rejected, and she did not submit anything else for another ten years.Le Guin attended Berkeley High School. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Renaissance French and Italian literature from Radcliffe College of Harvard University in 1951, and graduated as a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. As a child she had been interested in biology and poetry, but had been limited in her choice of career by her difficulties with mathematics. Le Guin undertook graduate studies at Columbia University, and earned a Master of Arts degree in French in 1952. Soon after, she began working towards a Ph.D., and won a Fulbright grant to continue her studies in France from 1953 to 1954.
Married life and death
In 1953, while traveling to France aboard the Queen Mary, Ursula met historian Charles Le Guin. They married in Paris in December 1953. According to Le Guin, the marriage signaled the "end of the doctorate" for her. While her husband finished his doctorate at Emory University in Georgia, and later at the University of Idaho, Le Guin taught French and worked as a secretary until the birth of her daughter Elisabeth in 1957. A second daughter, Caroline, was born in 1959. Also in that year, Charles became an instructor in history at Portland State University, and the couple moved to Portland, Oregon, where their son Theodore was born in 1964. They would live in Portland for the rest of their lives, although Le Guin received further Fulbright grants to travel to London in 1968 and 1975.Le Guin's writing career began in the late 1950s, but the time she spent caring for her children constrained her writing schedule. She would continue writing and publishing for nearly 60 years. She also worked as an editor, and taught undergraduate classes. She served on the editorial boards of the journals Paradoxa and Science Fiction Studies, in addition to writing literary criticism herself. She taught courses at Tulane University, Bennington College, and Stanford University, among others. In May 1983 she delivered a commencement speech entitled "A Left-handed Commencement Address" at Mil.... Discover the Ursula K Le Guin popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Ursula K Le Guin books.