Ray Bradbury

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Ray Bradbury in 1945.
Ray Bradbury in 1945.

Ray Douglas Bradbury (born August 22, 1920) is an American fantasy, science fiction, and mystery writer known best for his 1950 short story collection The Martian Chronicles and his 1953 dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451.

Ray Bradbury (his given name is not Raymond) was born in Waukegan, Illinois to a Swedish mother and a father who was a telephone lineman. His grandfather and great-grandfather were newspaper publishers, and not surprisingly, Bradbury was a reader and writer throughout his youth, reading in the Carnegie Library at Waukegan. His two early books Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked This Way Comes depict the town of Waukegan as "Green Town" and are semi-autobiographical. The Bradbury family lived in Tucson, Arizona, in 1926-1927 and 1932-1933, each time returning to Waukegan, and eventually settled in Los Angeles in 1934 when Ray was thirteen.

He graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1938 but chose not to attend college. To make a living, he sold newspapers. He educated himself at the library and, having been influenced by science fiction heroes like Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, Bradbury began to publish science fiction stories in fanzines in 1938. His first professional sale was to the pulp magazine Super Science Stories in 1941, and he became a full-time writer by the end of 1942. His first book, the collection Dark Carnival, was published in 1947. He married Marguerite McClure in 1947, and they had four daughters.



Ray Bradbury in 1976.
Ray Bradbury in 1976.

For Bradbury, there is some blurring of categories, and the distinctions below are somewhat subjective, for he frequently has written multiple short stories about a set of characters or a subject, making minor edits or adding supplemental material, and calling the results a "novel".

Although he is often described as a science fiction writer, Bradbury does not box himself into any particular categorization:

"First of all, I don't write science fiction. I've only done one science fiction book and that's Fahrenheit 451, based on reality. 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? That's the reason it's going to be around a long time — because it's a Greek myth, and myths have staying power." [1]

In between his fiction work Bradbury has written many short essays on serious subjects concerning the arts and culture, attracting the attention of serious critics in this field. Bradbury was a consultant for the American Pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair and the exhibit housed in EPCOT's Spaceship Earth geosphere at Walt Disney World.


Short story collections

In addition to these collections, many of the stories have been recollected into several "Best Of" style volumes.

Screenplays and Teleplays

This list does not include adaptations by others of Bradbury's published stories.


This list does not include adaptations by others of Bradbury's published stories.






Adaptations of his work

Many Bradbury stories and novels have been adapted to films, radio, television, theater and comic books. In 1951-1954, twenty-seven of Ray Bradbury's stories were adapted by Al Feldstein for EC Comics, sixteen of which were collected in the books The Autumn People (1965) and Tomorrow Midnight (1966).

In the early 1950s, adaptations of Bradbury stories were televised on a variety of shows -- Tales of Tomorrow, Lights Out, Out There, Suspense, CBS Television Workshop, Jane Wyman's Fireside Theatre, Star Tonight, Windows and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. One outstanding, well-remembered production from this period, praised by Variety, was the half-hour film, "The Merry-Go Round," adapted from "The Black Ferris" and shown on both Starlight Summer Theater in 1954 and NBC's Sneak Preview in 1956. The Martian Chronicles became a 1980 TV miniseries starring Rock Hudson. For The Ray Bradbury Theater, first seen on TV from 1985 to 1992, Bradbury adapted 65 of his stories.

Oskar Werner and Julie Christie in Fahrenheit 451 (1966).
Oskar Werner and Julie Christie in Fahrenheit 451 (1966).

Director Jack Arnold first brought Bradbury to movie theaters in 1953 with It Came from Outer Space, a Harry Essex screenplay developed from Bradbury's screen treatment ("The Meteor"). Three weeks later came the release of Eugène Lourié's The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1953), based on Bradbury's "The Fog Horn," about a sea monster mistaking a fog horn for the mating cry of a female. Bradbury's close friend Ray Harryhausen produced the stop-motion animation of the creature. Over the next 50 years, more than 35 features, shorts and TV movies were filmed from Bradbury stories or screenplays.

Recently, Peter Hyams' A Sound of Thunder (2005) brought an almost unanimous negative reaction from film critics. Reviewing for The New York Times, A.O. Scott observed that "it illustrates the dangers of turning a lean, elegant short story into a loud, noisy, incoherent B movie." A new film version of Fahrenheit 451 is being planned by director Frank Darabont; an earlier version was directed by François Truffaut in 1966.

In 2002, Bradbury's own Pandemonium Theatre Company production of Fahrenheit 451 at Burbank's Falcon Theatre combined live acting with projected digital animation by the Pixel Pups. Bradbury and director Charles Rome Smith co-founded Pandemonium in 1964, staging the New York production of The World of Ray Bradbury (1964), adaptations of "The Pedestrian," "The Veldt" and "To the Chicago Abyss."

Honors and awards

For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Ray Bradbury has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6644 Hollywood Blvd.

2004 award recipient Ray Bradbury with President George W. Bush and his wife Laura Bush
2004 award recipient Ray Bradbury with President George W. Bush and his wife Laura Bush

There is an asteroid named in his honor called (9766) Bradbury, along with a crater on the moon called "Dandelion Crater" (named after his novel, Dandelion Wine).

On November 17, 2004, Bradbury was the recipient of the National Medal of Arts, presented by President George W. Bush and Laura Bush.

Bradbury has also received the World Fantasy Award life achievement, Stoker Award life achievement, SFWA Grand Master, SF Hall of Fame Living Inductee, and First Fandom Award.

The "About the Author" sections in several of his published works claim that he has been nominated for an Academy Award. A search of the Academy's awards database [2] proves this to be incorrect. Two films he has worked on, Icarus Montgolfier Wright and Moby Dick have been nominated for Oscars, but Bradbury himself has not.


  • One well known irony is that Bradbury, despite writing about spaceships and interplanetary travel and having lived in Los Angeles for most of his life, has never driven a car. He attributes this to having seen a gruesome car accident when he was young.
  • Bradbury never flew in an airplane until the age of 62. He did enjoy a ride in the Goodyear Blimp when he was 48.
  • Bradbury is mentioned in The Simpsons episode "Lisa's Substitute." Springfield Elementary student Martin campaigns for class president — Martin: As your president, I would demand a science-fiction library, featuring the ABC's of the genre: Asimov, Bester, Clarke! Kid: What about Ray Bradbury? Martin: (dismissingly) I am aware of his work.

Further reading

  • William F. Nolan, The Ray Bradbury Companion: A Life and Career History, Photolog, and Comprehensive Checklist of Writings, Gale Research (1975). Hardcover, 339 pages. ISBN 0-8103-0930-0
  • Jerry Weist, Bradbury, an Illustrated Life: A Journey to Far Metaphor, William Morrow & Company (2002). Hardcover, 208 pages. ISBN 0060011823
  • Jonathan R. Eller and William F. Touponce, Ray Bradbury: The Life of Fiction, Kent State University Press (2004). Hardcover, 320 pages. ISBN 0873387791
  • Sam Weller, The Bradbury Chronicles : The Life of Ray Bradbury, HarperCollins (April 5, 2005). Hardcover, 384 pages. ISBN 006054581X

Documentaries about Ray Bradbury

  • Bradbury's works and approach to writing are documented in Terry Sanders' film Ray Bradbury: Story of a Writer (1963).

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