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Ray Bradbury was an award-winning American author and screenwriter. He was one of the most celebrated 20th-century American writers, and he worked in various genres and different mediums. He was most famous for his science fiction book Fahrenheit 451, as well as The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man.
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Key Facts & Information
EARLY LIFE AND FAMILY
- Ray Douglas Bradbury was born on August 22, 1920, in Waukegan, Illinois.
- His father, Leonard Spaulding Bradbury was a lineman for power and electrical utilities. He had English ancestry, and Ray’s mother, Esther Moberg Bradbury, was a Swedish immigrant
- When he was three years old, his mother took him to see Lon Chaney’s performance in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
- His family lived in Tucson, Arizona, where he attended Amphi Junior High School and Roskruge Junior High School.
- A carnival magician, Mr. Electrico, told Ray to “live forever” as he touched him with his energy-charged sword. He decided that it was the greatest idea he ever heard, and he started writing every day.
- The family eventually settled in Los Angeles in 1934, which made him euphoric, as he was very fond of Hollywood.
- He was active in the drama club and poetry club at Los Angeles High School.
- He received his first official pay as a writer when he was 14 for a joke he sold to George Burns, which was used on the Burns and Allen radio show.
- Bradbury was an avid reader of science fiction and adventure since childhood.
- He developed his love of books while growing up. His Aunt Neva gifted him his first book on fairy tales, Once Upon a Time. She also read him the Oz books by L. Frank Baum. When he was eight, he became fascinated with the comic strip “Buck Rogers”, and he eagerly awaited for its delivery every night.
- He borrowed Tarzan and John Carter, Warlord of Mars from his Uncle Bion. Its elements of fantasy, according to him, influenced him and changed his life.
- He spent much of his time in the Carnegie Library in Waukegan, where he read Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and Edgar Allan Poe. They became his primary influences.
- In his 20s, he explored the broader field of literature. This included reading Alexander Pope, poet John Donne, and the early writings of Theodore Sturgeon and A.E. van Vogt.
- Bradbury graduated during the Great Depression. His parents couldn’t afford to send him to college, so he went to the library three times a week for ten years instead. He later said in one of his interviews that the library raised him.
- In 1938, Bradbury published his first story, “Hollerbochen’s Dilemma”, in a fan magazine, Forrest James Ackerman’s Imagination. Ackerman provided him the funding to publish four issues of his fan magazine, Future Fantasia. He used different pseudonyms to conceal that he wrote almost all of the stories in the magazine, which was only limited to 100 copies.
- He received his first professional writing payment when he sold his story “Pendulum”, which was co-written with Henry Hasse. It was published in pulp magazine Super Science Stories in November of 1941, just before World War II. He was declared ineligible to join the military services due to his eye problems.
- Ray became a full-fledged writer at 24 years old. His collection of short stories, Dark Carnival, was published by Arkham House in 1943. The New York Times claimed that he would become a writer of the same caliber as British fantasy author John Collier.
- He was rejected from the pulp publication, Weird Tales. However, his story entitled “Homecoming” got Truman Capote’s attention after he submitted it to Mademoiselle. Capote helped this story get published. It eventually won a place in the O. Henry Award Stories of 1947.
- His first major book, The Martian Chronicles, was published in 1950. It was initially a collection of short stories. However, publishers were looking to publish a novel-length book, so it got rejected a dozen times. An editor of Doubleday Publishing suggested that he tie the stories together into a book-length collection and call it The Martian Chronicles. The next day, he took it to the Doubleday editor, who read it and gave him a $750 check.
- He went on to write The Fireman by renting a typewriter at UCLA’s Powell Library, which costs him 10 cents an hour. He changed its title to “Fahrenheit 451” and published it in 1953.
- Bradbury didn’t like being called a science fiction writer. Despite having envisioned modern-day technologies in Fahrenheit 451, most of his works are fantastical and unreal.
- He used his birth town of Waukegan in several of his stories, but he named it Green Town.
- He had written over 600 stories and 27 books in the span of his 70-year career. He also wrote poems, essays, teleplays, and screenplays.
LIFE IN HOLLYWOOD
- His family moved to Los Angeles when he was 14.
- Hoping to meet celebrities, he often roller-skated around Hollywood. He eventually met his lifelong friend, Ray Harryhausen, a special-effects pioneer who created a form of stop motion model animation known as “Dynamation”.
- Ray wrote a screenplay for the 1956 adaptation of Moby Dick. The movie got nominated on the 1962 Academy Award.
- In 1993, he won an Emmy for his teleplay, The Halloween Tree, which was based on his fantasy novel with the same name.
- He produced his TV series, The Ray Bradbury Theatre, in which he adapted sixty-five of his stories. It also won several awards.
- His works were also adapted into TV series such as Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.
- His books, such as Fahrenheit 451, The Illustrated Man, It Came from Outer Space, etc., were also adapted into feature films.
- Bradbury got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 1, 2002.
- In 1947, Bradbury got married to Marguerite McClure, a clerk in a bookstore he met because she thought he was stealing a book. They had four daughters.
- Bradbury was not only a genius in writing but also an exceptional visual artist. He loved to doodle, sketch, and paint. He usually drew devil faces, monsters, cats, and pumpkins.
- He relied on public transportation or his bicycle, as he refused to learn how to drive and never obtained a driver’s license.
- He formed a close friendship with Ray Harryhausen, who was the best man at Bradbury’s wedding, through their mutual love of science fiction. They met when they were eighteen years old and continued to contact each other at least once a month for over seventy years.
- Gene Roddenberry, the Star Trek creator, also developed an intimate friendship with him for many years, and Bradbury deeply grieved his death.
- In 1999, he was partially paralyzed and had to depend on a wheelchair for mobility after he suffered a stroke.
- At the age of 91, he died in Los Angeles, California, on June 5, 2012.
- Bradbury donated his library to the Waukegan Public Library.
- His headstone in Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles reads “Author of Fahrenheit 451”.
RECOGNITIONS AND AWARDS
- Bradbury also received numerous awards for his writing, including two O. Henry Prize anthologies, the National Medal of Arts presented by Pres. George W. Bush and Laura Bush, and a special citation by the Pulitzer Prize jury for his “prolific and deeply influential” career.
- He was also given Space-Age recognitions, such as a moon crater named “Dandelion”, an asteroid designated “9766 Bradbury”, and rocks on Mars that were named “The Martian Chronicles”. The Phoenix Mars Lander carried a digital copy of his book, The Martian Chronicles, which traveled to the high northern latitudes of Mars.
Ray Bradbury Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Ray Bradbury across 25 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Ray Bradbury worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Ray Bradbury who was an award-winning American author and screenwriter. He was one of the most celebrated 20th-century American writers, and he worked in various genres and different mediums. He was most famous for his science fiction book Fahrenheit 451, as well as The Martian Chronicles and The Illustrated Man.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Ray Bradbury Facts
- A Book Aficionado
- Life of a Great Writer
- Bradbury’s Circle
- The Bradbury Inquiry
- Matching Books
- Literary Influences
- A Fruitful Career
- The Quotes of Bradbury
- Missing Pieces
- Your Own Fantasy
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Use With Any Curriculum
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