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Ursula K. Le Guin was an iconic writer known for her science-fiction and high fantasy works as well as her feminist essays. She struggled initially to be published in the mainstream fiction world, but her first three novels put her on the male-dominated sci-fi map.
See the fact file below for more information on the Ursula K. Le Guin or alternatively, you can download our 21-page Ursula K. Le Guin worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
Early and Family Life
- Acclaimed writer Ursula K. Le Guin was born Ursula Kroeber on October 21, 1929, in Berkeley, California, the youngest child and only girl among four siblings.
- Her mother, Theodora, was a writer who chronicled the life of the last Yahi tribe member, Ishi, while her father, Alfred, was a celebrated anthropologist.
- Le Guin was raised in a household in which the exploration of art, ideas, and cultures was encouraged, with members of the Native-American community becoming well known to the family.
- Le Guin went on to attend Radcliffe College, and later graduated with an MA from Columbia University.
- She wed historian and fellow Fulbright scholar Charles Le Guin in December 1953, some months after the two met on a maritime voyage to France.
- In the early 1960s, Le Guin had published a few things, but had written much more that was not yet published. Le Guin would later recount that she faced years of rejection from mainstream publishers while plying her trade as a writer.
- She eventually turned to the genres of science fiction and fantasy, and found acceptance. In doing so, she became one of the most critically acclaimed science fiction writers. Le Guin’s work has been collected more frequently in literary anthologies than that of any other science-fiction author.
- Ursula K. Le Guin went on to become known as one of the early feminist voices in fantasy and science fiction. She was one of the very few writers that has been able to break through the academic disdain for “low art”.
- Le Guin believed that imagination, not profit, should drive artistic creation and expression. She was a vocal advocate for genre work, finding the distinction between high and low art to be incredibly problematic.
- Her work is often concerned with individual freedom. In her fictitious worlds, there is a limitless range of choices, but none are without results. To ignore this fact is to be not human. Therefore, in Le Guin’s story, any self-aware being is a human, regardless of its species.
- One of Ursula Le Guin’s most well-known series, the Hainish series, was the setting for two of her earliest novels. Among the later titles in the series are The Word for World Is Forest (1972), The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia (1974), and The Telling (2000).
- The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), the fourth book of the Hainish Series, became one of Le Guin’s most acclaimed and trailblazing works.
- A ponderous narrative, Darkness profiles the Gethenians, an alien race who have no fixed gender characteristics until the time of monthly mating, with the novel also contrasting the social mores of two nations in conflict. The book was eventually lauded as a visionary classic and won both Nebula and Hugo awards, an unprecedented double honor.
- After a request from a publisher, Le Guin turned to the world of young adult audiences and released A Wizard of Earthsea in 1968, following the travails of student wizard Sparrowhawk in a tempestuous archipelago locale.
- With visceral descriptions of magic and physical terrain, Earthsea became a renowned series as seen with the follow-up works The Tombs of Atuan (1970), The Farthest Shore (1972), and Tehanu (1990), as well as Tales From Earthsea (2001) and The Other Wind (2001), the final novel in the series.
- The Earthsea books have reportedly sold millions of copies worldwide. Though the series is geared towards teen audiences, adult readers have taken to them as well, as the works are noted for their emotional maturity and depth.
Death and Legacy
- Le Guin died at her Portland home on January 22, 2018, at age 88. No cause was immediately named, though one of her sons said she had been in poor health for months.
- The tributes came pouring in, with other writers paying respects to one of the most influential figures in the literary world from the past 50 years.
- For Le Guin, the most important thing about writing is the story and she struggled against anything that could be construed as propaganda.
- Her science fiction and fantasy is part of her alliance with formal intellectual pursuits. Her work reflects a deep interest of the field of anthropology, reflected in the amount of care she puts into creating other cultures as well as other worlds.
- Her work continues to offer an alternative to the capitalistic, male-centered ideals of the West that rule most genre fictions of today. Her own work is filled with a desire for balance and unity in society, reflected in the ideals of Taoism, Jungian psychology, ecology, and human liberation.
Ursula K. Le Guin Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Ursula K. Le Guin across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Ursula K. Le Guin worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Ursula K. Le Guin who was an iconic writer known for her science-fiction and high fantasy works as well as her feminist essays. She struggled initially to be published in the mainstream fiction world, but her first three novels put her on the male-dominated sci-fi map.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Authors Online
- Ursula’s Universe
- Library Hunt
- Judge By The Cover
- What’s That Sci-Fi?
- Ursula Says
- Earthsea On My Mind
- Women of Sci-Fi
- You’ve Got Mail
- Equal Opportunity for All
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Use With Any Curriculum
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