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Ray Bradbury

Who Was Ray Bradbury?

Ray Bradbury was an American fantasy and horror author who rejected being categorized as a science fiction author, claiming that his work was based on the fantastical and unreal. His best known novel is Fahrenheit 451, a dystopian study of future American society in which critical thought is outlawed. He is also remembered for several other popular works, including The Martian Chronicles and Something Wicked This Way Comes. Bradbury won the Pulitzer in 2007, and is one of the most celebrated authors of the 21st century. 

Early Life

Author Ray Douglas Bradbury was born on August 22, 1920, in Waukegan, Illinois, to Leonard Spaulding Bradbury, a lineman for power and telephone utilities, and Ester Moberg Bradbury, a Swedish immigrant. Bradbury enjoyed a relatively idyllic childhood in Waukegan, which he later incorporated into several semi-autobiographical novels and short stories. As a child, he was a huge fan of magicians, and a voracious reader of adventure and fantasy fiction — especially L. Frank Baum, Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Bradbury decided to become a writer at about age 12 or 13. He later said that he made the decision in hopes of emulating his heroes, and to "live forever" through his fiction.

Bradbury's family moved to Los Angeles, California in 1934. As a teenager, he participated in his school's drama club and occasionally befriended Hollywood celebrities. His first official pay as a writer came for contributing a joke to George Burns' Burns & Allen Show. After graduation from high school in 1938, Bradbury couldn't afford to go to college, so he went to the local library instead. "Libraries raised me," he later said. "I believe in libraries because most students don't have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression, and we had no money. I couldn't go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years."

Books and Short Stories

To support himself while he wrote, Bradbury sold newspapers. He published his first short story in a fan magazine in 1938, the same year he graduated from high school. The next year, he published four issues of his own fan magazine, Futuria Fantasia. Nearly every piece in the magazine was written by Bradbury himself; he used a variety of pseudonyms to try to hide the fact that the magazine was a virtual one-man show. "I was still years away from writing my first good short story," he later said, "but I could see my future. I knew where I wanted to go."

Bradbury sold his first professional piece, the story "Pendulum," in November 1941, just a month before the United States entered World War II, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Ruled ineligible for military service by his local draft board because of his vision problems, Bradbury became a full-time writer by early 1943. His first collection of short stories, Dark Carnival, was published in 1947.

That same year, he married Marguerite "Maggie" McClure, whom he met while she was working as a clerk at a bookstore. McClure was the breadwinner in the early days of their marriage, supporting Bradbury as he worked on his writing for little to no pay. The couple had four daughters, Susan (1949), Ramona (1951), Bettina (1955) and Alexandra (1958).

In 1950, Bradbury published his first major work, The Martian Chronicles, which detailed the conflict between humans colonizing the red planet and the native Martians they encountered there. While taken by many to be a work of science fiction, Bradbury himself considered it to be fantasy. "I don't write science fiction," he said. "Science fiction is a depiction of the real. Fantasy is a depiction of the unreal. So Martian Chronicles is not science fiction, it's fantasy. It couldn't happen, you see?" Television and comic book adaptations of Bradbury's short stories began to appear in 1951, introducing him to a wider audience.

Ray Bradbury - Martian Chronicles Book -
Ray Bradbury - Fahrenheit 451 Book Cover
Ray Bradbury - Something Wicked This Way
Ray Bradbury - The Illustrated Man Book


1. What year was Ray Bradbury born? Where? 

2. What are some of his most famous works? 

3. What did Bradbury do in the 1940s? 

4. What year did Bradbury publish his first major work? 

5. Where did Bradbury live? 

6. Is Ray Bradbury alive? Is not, what year did he pass away? 

7. Why was Bradbury ruled ineligible for military service? 

8. How many children did Bradbury have? 

9. At what age did Bradbury decide to become a writer? 

10. Have you read any of Ray Bradbury's books? 

If so, which one?

If not, would you like to? Why or why not?