Ray Bradbury was born on August 22, 1920, in Waukegan, Illinois, to Leonard Bradbury, a telephone linesman, and Esther Bradbury. His childhood in Waukegan is fictionalized in his Green Town stories. His family moved to Los Angeles in 1934, and he graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1938. He did not go to college because his parents could not afford it. Like Mr. Halloway in Something Wicked This Way Comes, he educated himself by reading in libraries. As a child he read comics, pulp magazines like Amazing Stories, Edgar Allan Poe, L. Frank Baum, fairy tales, Edgar Rice Burroughs, H. G. Wells, and Jules Verne. He began writing stories when he was twelve. He was fascinated with traveling circuses and appeared on stage as a volunteer with Blackstone the Magician in 1931. He once attended a writing class by science fiction writer Robert Heinlein, and at the age of fifteen began submitting his work to magazines. He joined the Los Angeles Science Fiction League in 1937 and its magazine, Imagination!printed his first short story in 1938. In 1942 he sold stories to Weird Tales, a dark fantasy magazine.
Bradbury’s first collected work, Dark Carnival (1947), was published by Arkham House, the publisher of horror master, H. P. Lovecraft. In 1947 he married Maggie McClure and began his family of four children. Influenced by Thomas Wolfe, Edgar Allan Poe, Sherwood Anderson, and other American writers, Bradbury became known as a poetic stylist and began to publish in more mainstream magazines such as Harper’s and the New Yorker.
His fame became assured with the Martian Chronicles (1950) putting not only him, but also fantasy/science fiction into mainstream literature, enthusiastically received by critics. The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man (1951), and Fahrenheit 451 (1953) were called science fiction, but his style was more full of literary symbolism than hard science. Bradbury was actually critical of technology in his work, feeling that it destroyed civilization.
He branched out to write screenplays for Hollywood, such as It Came From Outer Space (1953) and Moby-Dick (1956), and for television—“The Alfred Hitchcock Show” and Rod Serling’s “Twilight Zone.” Dandelion Wine (1957) was his first collection of stories about Green Town, Illinois, based on his boyhood in Waukegan. His first novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962) dealt with Green Town as well, but a different set of characters. This story was made into a Disney film with Bradbury’s film script in 1983.
Ray Bradbury died on June 5, 2012, in Los Angeles. He published over five hundred works, including short stories, novels, screenplays, television scripts, stage plays, and essays. He is most famous for science fiction and fantasy but also wrote mysteries, realistic social fiction, and nostalgic small town idylls. He won a World Fantasy Award in 1977 for lifetime achievement: Gandalf, PEN, National Book Foundation, Grand Master Nebula, and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Awards.