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Ray Bradbury (Ray Douglas Bradbury) Biography

(1920– ), (Ray Douglas Bradbury), The Martian Chronicles, The Silver Locusts, The Illustrated Man

American novelist and short-story writer, born in Waukegan, Illinois, educated at Los Angeles High School. Among his best-known collections of interlinked stories are The Martian Chronicles (1950; UK title The Silver Locusts, 1951) containing ‘The Fire Balloons’, set on Mars, concerning missionary priests and ethereal aliens; and The Illustrated Man (1951), in which a mythical circus man's tattoos come eerily to life as fantastic tales. The Golden Apples of the Sun (1953), the title of which alludes to Yeats's ‘The Song of Wandering Aengus’, contains stories mainly set in the future, several of them dealing with wanderers, such as the title story about the captain of a spaceship whose task is to skim the surface of the sun. His many other collections include Dark Carnival (1947), The October Country (1955), A Medicine for Melancholy (1959; UK title The Day It Rained Forever), The Machineries of Joy (1966), I Sing the Body Electric! (1969), The Last Circus and the Electrocution (1980), A Memory of Murder (1984), The Townbee Convector (1988), and The Smile (1991). His most renowned novel, Fahrenheit 451 (1953), filmed by François Truffaut in 1966, is a moral fable set in a nightmarish near future dystopia; the title refers to the temperature ‘at which book-paper catches fire and burns’, and the main task of the firemen is to seek out books and burn them. The fireman hero, Montag, gradually discovers the evil inherent in this dream-like totalitarian system, and after betrayal by his wife and colleagues, joins a group of people dedicated to the task of memorizing all the great books for future posterity. Other novels include the horror-fantasy Something Wicked This Way Comes (1963; filmed in 1983); Death Is a Lonely Business (1985), a hardboiled murder mystery; and A Graveyard for Lunatics (1990), set in the Hollywood of the 1950s. Bradbury has also written plays, published in The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit (1972), and film scripts, including It Came from Outer Space (1952), Moby Dick (1954), and The Picasso Summer (1968); On Stage: A Chrestomathy of His Plays (1991) is a selection of his work. Dandelion Crater, on the surface of the moon, was so named by Apollo astronauts in honour of Dandelion Wine (1957), in which interlinked stories spring from the imagination of a young boy during the summer of 1928. Bradbury was commended by Brian Aldiss as ‘the Hans Christian Andersen of the jet age’; his combination of humour and visionary intensity often reflects a nostalgia for childhood, and American small-town life. He has also published Green Shadows, White Whale (1992), an account of his experiences in the early 1950s when he worked in Ireland as scriptwriter on John Huston's film Moby Dick; and the essays Yestermorrow: Obvious Answers to Impossible Futures (1991) and Journey to far Metaphor (1994).

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Edward Bond (Thomas Edward Bond) Biography to Bridge