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Raymond Douglas Bradbury was born on August 22, 1920 in Waukegan, Illinois, which hell later use as a setting for one of his, Something Wicked This Way Comes. He had two parents, named Esther and Leonard Bradbury, and he had two brothers who were named Samuel and Leonard (Mass 19). Samuel passed away before Bradbury was born so he never met him. He also had a sister, Elizabeth, who was born in 1926, passed away in 1927. Bradbury was only seven when this happened and he didn't understand he won't be able to see his little sister ever again. (Morgen 2)
Bradbury first encounter with science fiction was when his mom took him to see The Hunchback of Notre Dame, when he was three (Mass 20). He saw various other science fiction movies, which greatly influenced him into writing science fiction. He would read anything by H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, or Edgar Allan Poe he could get his hands on and found out about the science fiction magazine Amazing Stories when he was eight. "His immersion in popular culture began at three." (Morgen 2).
His home town, Waukegan, Illinois, which he uses for the setting of some of his books, such as Something Wicked This Way Comes, wasn't the fastest town in the world. Bradbury never noticed that the employment rate was really high in that town or all the run-down areas that were there. All Bradbury cared about was that he could play in the revine right next to his house and that all his relatives lived on the same block as him (Mass20).Waukegan, Illinois was the setting for Something Wicked This Way Comes; he just changed the name to Greentown, Illinois. (Bradbury 1)
Leonard, Bradbury's older brother, was the one who played sports and was athletic while Bradbury was never into sports and enjoyed spending a day at the library instead of being outside. "I hid out there summers, hiding from bullies," Bradbury said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune on November 17, 1995. (Flink 5) Bradbury began to collect comic strips, mostly Buck Rogers, when he was nine. When the bullies at his school found out about this, they started to make fun of him and he ended up destorying all of them to show that he didn't care. After they left, he found himsef crying which made he realize that he actually cared about them. So from then on he promised himself to never let anyone's opinion change his passion in life.(Mass 24)
Turning twelve was a big year for Bradbury, because he found he next love which was writing. That Christmas he recieved a toy typewriter and he immediately started writing stories, based off Buck Rogers and other characters. (Mass 25) This also gave him his first job, which was a radio station would let him read his comics over the air. Instead of getting paid, he recieved tickets to science fiction and horror movies. Two years later, his family moved to Los Angeles, California and the apartment that they were living it was very close to Hollywood. He became really good friends with some of the movie theather owners who would give him free tickets to movies (Mass 29). When he turned seventeen, he joined the Los Angeles Science Fiction League. He became friends with a very popular writer named Robert Heinlein. Bradbury once said this to the San Diego press in 2000, "From the time I was 12 until I was 23, I wrote stories long after midnight- unconventional stories of ghosts and haunts and things in jars that I had seen in sour armpit carnivals, and of friends lost to the tides in lakes." (Koster 18)
In his junior year of highschool Bradbury joined the Los Angeles Science Fiction League, while there Bradbury met a man named Forrest J. Ackerman. Ackerman described Bradbury as, "one of the world's greatest literary talents and socially stimulating individuals of the twentieth century." (Weist 12-13) During his senior year, Bradbury met Ray Harryhausen, who was a fantasy/fiction/horror film producer. Since Bradbury was writing things for those types of films and Harryhausen was producing them, they were a perfect match for each other. Ray Bradbury once said, "We promised each other we'd always love dinosaurs. We'd grow old but never grow up." (Horowitz 5)
Since he couldn't afford college, Bradbury's education past high-school was pretty much reading anything he could get his hands on. He picked up a job selling newspaper which paid ten dollars an hour, and this also allowed him to read and write at night. He saved up enough money to take a short story writing class and would read books that ranged from classic literature to things that were completely different. When he was in his late-teens, he joined a "fandom" scene, which is a group of people who write science fiction magazines called fanzines. (Mass 33) Writers were encouraged to publish their works and then the fans would comment by sending them letters. Bradbury first published was a story called, "Hollerbochen's Dilemma," which showed up in a magazine called Imagination! by the time he was twenty-one, he published the first paying short story called "Pendulum", which payed him $13.75. He then sold his very own story, called "The Lake" for twenty dollars. By the end on 1942, he was a full time writer. (Bradbury 18)
"I write for fun, I approach my craft with enthusiasm and respect. If my work sparks serious thought, fine." (Bradbury 8) After he sold his first story, he began to write every single day and his stories were amazing. He wanted to join the army in World War 2 but he was unable to because of his bad eyesight. He was able to help though by writing the radio announcements for Red Cross and other things for the Department of Civil Defense. In 1945, Bradbury was nationwide recognition for his story, "The Black and White Game" which was selected to be in the anthology Best American Short Stories.
Ray Bradbury began to develop his very own way of writing that would pull the reader into the story and ensure that he or she would remember it long after they finished it.(Johnson 5-9) He can achieve this by the way he uses his metaphors and similies, for example in Something Wicked This Way Comes, the two main characters who are young boys, are always doing what they want and running wherever they want to and just doing anything. So in Something Wicked This Way Comes, life is like the young boys, things happen unexpectedly and come out of nowhere. He also describes the carnival as this dark and mystery place, which lets the readers know that the carnival isn't the best thing in the world and could be evil.
Ray Bradbury has been given various amounts of awards and honors throughout his writing careers. The first being the "O. Henry Award" in 1947 for his short story "Homecoming." In 1949, not only was his first daughter born, the National Fantasty Fan Federation named him, "Best Fantasty/Science Fiction Author of 1949." Since he wrote the screenplay for Moby Dick, Times magazine called him, "The Poet of the Pulps," and he also was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (Mass 87). In 1970, he was inducted in the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. The following year, when astronauts' found a impact crater, they named it "Dandelion Crater" after his novel called Dandelion Wine and when they discovered an asteroid in 1992, they named it "9766 Bradbury."(Mass 80) Bradbury was the only person in the who can say he has a star on Earth and a crater on the moon. His home town, Waukegan, Illinois, dedicated an entire park to him in 1990, which is modeled after his novel Dandelion Wine. Four years after that, he was nominated and won an Emmy for The Halloween Tree, one of his screenplays. He has five fictional autobiographies, including Something Wicked This Way Comes. In 2004, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts, which was presented that the president during that time, President George W. Bush. He also designed the EPCOT center in Disney World (Mass 72).
Ray Bradbury passed away in a Los Angeles hospital on June 5, 2012. He died at the age of 91, and the cause of his death from a lengthy illness that he was dealing with since 1999. Many authors and celebrity fans have paid tribute by saying what a huge influences he was to their work and how much he helped them. Ray Bradbury will also be known as one of the greatest science fiction writers in history. "Ray Bradbury's love of good writing and passion for life shine through his books. As great as his work is, perhaps the greatest thing he's written has been the script of his life." (Cervantes 1)
Cervantes, Joseph. Ray Bradbury Headlines at Sixth Annual Writer's Symposium by the Sea. Point Loma, 2001. p. 1
Flink, John. Ray Bradbury Comes Home. Chicago: Chicago Tribute, 1996. p. 5.
Horowitz, Shel. Ray Bradbury's Wild Dreams Become Reality. Global Arts Review, 2002. p. 5
Indick, Ben P. Ray Bradbury, Still Talking and Still Listening. San Bernardino, Ca: Borgo, 1989, p. 40
Johnson, Wayne L. Ray Bradbury. New York: F. Ungar Publishing Co., 1980. p.5-9.
Koster, Katie De. Readings on Fahrenheit 451. San Diego: Greenhaven, 2000. p. 18.
Mogen, David. Ray Bradbury. Boston: Twayne, 1986, p. 2.
Mass, Wendy Ray Bradbury: Master of Science Fiction and Fantasty. Berkeley Heights: Enslow, 2012. p.25-31, 41, 79-81.
Weist, Jerry, and Ray Bradbury. Bradbury: An Illustrated Life. New York: HarperCollins World, 2002. p. 12-13.