August Babies – Ray Bradbury & Fahrenheit 451
August did not have any compelling holidays to celebrate, so this month I’ll be posting about authors who were born in the month of August.
Ray Bradbury 8/22/1920 – 6/5/2012
Ray Bradbury was born August 22, 1920 in Waukegan Illinois, but his family moved to Tucson, Arizona in 1926 and then to Los Angeles, California in 1934. His first paying job as a writer was at only age fourteen working for the Burns and Allen show. An avid fiction reader from a young age Bradbury started writing his own stories at eleven years old working on mostly horror stories until he was eighteen. He also was fond of cartooning and illustration. He often visited his mentor Bob Olsen while he was a teenager. In 1936 Brandbury discovered the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society where he was able to share his love of the genre with others on a weekly basis. This fostered his switch from traditional horror to science fiction.
His first published story appeared the fanzine Imagination in January of 1938 and through his story was able to attend the First World Science Fiction Convention in New York City in 1939. Bradbury was a full-time writer by the end of 1942 at the age of 22 writing short stories for magazines and creating collections of those stories. His most famous book was Fahrenheit 451 published in 1953. Originally written as a 25,000 word story Firemen the short novel became a staple in dystopian literature.
Bradbury was married to the only woman he ever dated, Marguerite McClure for fifty-six years and had four children. He never obtained a driver’s license and relied on public transit or his bicycle his entire life. After a stroke in 1999 that left Bradbury partially dependant upon a wheel chair he continued to write and attend Science Fiction conventions until 2009 when he retired. His last work was an essay for The New Yorker about his inspiration for writing, which was published one week before his death. Bradbury died in Los Angeles, California on June 5, 2012 at the age of 91. Bradbury’s death affected much of the world including filmmaker Steven Spielberg, writers Neil Gaiman and Stephen King. The popular music producer Deadmau5 released an EP entitled “The Veldt” inspired by one of Bradbury’s stories by the same name. He dedicated the song to Bradbury’s memory. The day after his death President Barak Obama released a statement saying:
“For many Americans the new of Ray Bradbury’s death immediately brought to mind images from his work, imprinted on our minds, often from a young age. His gift for story telling reshaped our culture and expanded our world. But Ray also understood that our imaginations could be used as a tool for better understanding, a vehicle for change, and an expression of our most cherished values. There is no doubt that Ray will continue to inspire many more generations with his writing, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”