Ray Bradbury was born on the 22nd of August in 1920, in Waukegan, Illinois, the United States. He was the brilliant son of Esther Bradbury, a Swedish immigrant, and his father, Leonard Spaulding Bradbury, was a telephone and power lineman. His childhood was spent in an extended family system, where his aunt played a highly positive role in shaping his creative mind. Her storytelling technique set the grounds for most of his writings.
Ray Bradbury was an active student at Los Angeles High School. Besides; his participation in Drama and Poetry Clubs was so admiring. First, he planned to make a career in acting but his extensive reading shaped his young brain and he decided to pursue writing as his career. Although he received a less formal education, yet his quest for knowledge made him achieve the mastery of knowledge. Unfortunately, he did not attend college but received honorary degrees from various universities such as an honorary doctorate from Woodbury University in 2003. Later, in 2005, the National University of Ireland awarded him a Doctor of Laws, and Columbia College Chicago awarded an honorary doctorate degree in 2009.
Ray Bradbury was honored with various awards such as Whittier College awarded him an honorary degree for his services to literature. Later in 1984, his novel, Fahrenheit 451, won Prometheus Award. He won Emmy Award for his play, The Halloween, in 1994. Moreover, the National Book Foundation awarded him the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 2000. On the 17th of November in 2004, George W. Bush presented him with the National Medal of Arts. Also, in 1977, he received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. His other notable achievements include the Literary Heritage Award, special citation by the Pulitzer Prize jury, and Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award.
Some Important Facts of His Life
- He completed his masterpiece, Fahrenheit 451, on a rented typewriter in just nine days.
- He was named SFPA Grandmaster in 2008 and NASA’S curiosity over the landing site on planet Mars was named “Bradbury Landing” in 2012.
- He suffered a fatal stroke in 1999 and died on the 5th of June in 2010 in Los Angeles, California.
Ray Bradbury remained as an outstanding literary figure, who started writing at a very young age. His first written play at the age of fourteen was used on the Burns and Allen radio show. This successful attempt set grounds for his further success. He was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, H. G. Wells, and Jules Verne, and started writing horror stories imitating the style of Edgar Alan Poe. Upon joining Los Angeles Science Fiction League in 1937, he received a lot of encouragement from young writers like Henry Kuttner, Robert Heinlein, and Edmond Hamilton that led to the publication of his first short story, “Hollerbochen’s Dilemma” followed by another publication, Fanzine, Futuria Fantasia. Later in the mid-1940s, his stories earned an important place in notable magazines including thrilling Wonder Stories, Planet Stories, and slicks. Later, in 1950, his publication, The Martian Chronicles details earth’s colonization of Mars followed by another successful collection, The Illustrated Man, which appeared in the following year. However, his greatest and most acclaimed work, Fahrenheit 451, was published in 1953. His other publications include The Golden Apples of the Sun, Green Shadows, White Whale, and Dandelion Wine.
Ray Bradbury chose to pen down his emotions creating his unique style. Instead of following the paradigms of writing set by the former authors, he adopted a distinctive narrative style that offers a perfect blend of science-fiction and fantasy writing. For instance, in his work, The Martian Chronicles, he used the elements of science fiction to talk about the deep human values of the past in contrast with the sterile gadgetry of the future. Regarding literary devices, he often turned toward imagery, similes, metaphors, internal dialogues, and sound devices. The recurring themes in most of his writings stand time travel, space travel, knowledge versus ignorance, and technology.
Some Important Works of Ray Bradbury
- Best Novels: He was an outstanding writer, some of his best novels include Fahrenheit 451, The Golden Apples of the Sun, White Whale, White Whale, and Dandelion Wine.
- Other Works: Besides writing novels, he tried his hands on other genres of literature such as; The Anthem Sprinters, Other Antics, “All Summer in a Day,” Death Is a Lonely Business, A Graveyard for Lunatics, and Let’s All Kill Constance.
Ray Bradbury’s Impact on Future Literature
Ray Bradbury left a great legacy that even after many years of his demise his works are still masterpieces. His uniqueness lies in the mixture of fantasy and science fiction. His writing primarily addressed the issue of the importance of knowledge by using literary and science-fiction elements in his works. That is why he is celebrated as an inspiration to writers in these genres.
- “What traitor’s books can be! You think they’re backing you up, and they turn on you. Others can use them, too, and there you are, lost in the middle of the moor, in a great welter of nouns and verbs and adjectives.” (Fahrenheit 451)
- “There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches…. Every dimwit editor who sees himself as the source of all dreary blanc-mange plain porridge unleavened literature, licks his guillotine and eyes the neck of any author who dares to speak above a whisper or write above a nursery rhyme.” (Coda)
- “Every time you take a step, even when you don’t want to … when it hurts, when it means you rub chins with death, or even if it means dying, that’s good. Anything that moves ahead, wins. No chess game was ever won by the player who sat for a lifetime thinking over his next move.” (Farewell Summer)