Friday, June 8, 2012

Ray Bradbury - Bio

by Chris Jepsen & Richard Johnston
Ray Douglas Bradbury was born in Waukegan, Illinois, on August 22, 1920. 
He was the third son of Leonard Spaulding Bradbury and Esther Marie Moberg Bradbury. They gave him the middle name "Douglas," after the actor, Douglas Fairbanks.

He never lived up to his namesake's reputation for swashbuckling adventure on the high seas. Instead, Bradbury's great adventures would take place behind a typewriter, in the realm of imagination. Today, as an author, essayist, playwright, screenwriter, lecturer, poet and visionary, Ray Bradbury is known as one of America's greatest creative geniuses.
Bradbury's early childhood in Waukegan was characterized by his loving extended family. These formative years provided the foundations for both the author and his stories.

In Bradbury's works of fiction, 1920s Waukegan becomes "Greentown," Illinois. Greentown is a symbol of safety and home, and often provides a contrasting backdrop to tales of fantasy or menace. In Greentown, Bradbury's favorite uncle sprouts wings, traveling carnivals conceal supernatural powers, and his grandparents provide room and board to Charles Dickens. 
Between 1926 and 1933, the Bradbury family moved back and forth between Waukegan and Tucson, Arizona. In 1931, young Ray began writing his own stories on butcher paper. 
In 1934, the Bradbury family moved to Los Angeles, California. As a teenager, Bradbury often roller-skated through Hollywood, trying to spot celebrities. He befriended other talented and creative people, like special effects maestro Ray Harryhausen and radio star George Burns. 
In fact, it was Burns who gave Bradbury his first pay as a writer -- for contributing a joke to the Burns & Allen Show.
Bradbury attended Los Angeles High School. He was active in the drama club and planned to become an actor. 

However, two of his teachers recognized a greater talent in Bradbury, and encouraged his development as a writer. Snow Longley Housh taught him about poetry and Jeannet Johnson taught him to write short stories. Over 60 years later, Bradbury's work bears the indelible impressions left by these two women. 

As his high school years progressed, Bradbury grew serious about becoming a writer. Outside of class, he contributed to fan publications and joined the Los Angeles Science Fiction League. At school, he improved his grades and joined the Poetry Club.
Bradbury's formal education ended with his high school graduation in 1938. However, he continued to educate himself. He sold newspapers on Los Angeles street corners all day, but spent his nights in the library. The hours between newspaper editions were spent at his typewriter. 
His first published short story was "Hollerbochen's Dilemma," printed in 1938 in Imagination!, an amateur fan magazine. In 1939, Bradbury published four issues of his own fan magazine, Futuria Fantasia, writing much of the content himself. His first paid publication, a short story titled "Pendulum," appeared in Super Science Stories in 1941. 

As he honed his writing skills, Bradbury often looked to established writers for guidance. During those early years, his mentors included Henry Kuttner, Leigh Brackett, Robert Heinlein and Henry Hasse.
At last, in 1942, Bradbury wrote "The Lake" -- the story in which he discovered his distinctive writing style. The following year, he gave up selling newspapers and began to write full-time. In 1945 his short story "The Big Black and White Game" was selected for Best American Short Stories. That same year, Bradbury traveled through Mexico to collect Indian masks for the Los Angeles County Museum.
In 1946, he met his future wife, Marguerite "Maggie" McClure. A graduate of George Washington High School (1941) and UCLA, Maggie was working as a clerk in a book shop when they met.