Ray Bradbury, the accomplished literary author, died yesterday morning in Los Angeles, at the age of 91. One of America’s most admired writers, Bradbury penned many well-known titles including The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451 and Something Wicked This Way Comes. As Bradbury’s grandson recounts to io9, “His legacy lives on in his monumental body of books, film, television and theater, but more importantly, in the minds and hearts of anyone who read him, because to read him was to know him.”
A talented painter with an impressive collection of original artwork, Bradbury had many strings to his bow. Working in both television and film, the author wrote the screenplay for John Huston’s 1956 adaptation of Moby-Dick. A few years later in 1964, Bradbury set up the Pandemonium Theater Company where he forayed from writing plays to producing them. Architecture and poetry also top the list of his successes with the publication of several poetry collections, including When Elephants Last in the Dooryard Bloomed, and his work on the design of San Diego’s Westfield Horton Plaza.
Born in 1920 in Waukegan, Illinois, Bradbury was the son of a lineman for the local power company. Developing a love of books and film provided Bradbury with a form of escapism during his early childhood, a time that was shaken by repeated family moves due to his father being out of work, the death of his grandfather at the age of five and the passing of his baby sister two years later. As a result, the theme of loss is an apparent thread within his work. The family’s prospects were altered greatly by a move to California in 1934, a place that brought reliable employment and an even greater passion for the cinematic art.
After joining the Los Angeles Science Fiction League in 1938, Bradbury met fellow writers Robert Heinlein and Leigh Brackett which led him to his first commission, a piece for the literary magazine Script. His career grew as work for other magazines followed, such as contributions to Astounding Science Fiction. Bradbury broke into the literary world in 1950 with “The Martian Chronicles,” a series of stories that portrayed a satirical account of the tensions within a capitalist society, consisting of Earth colonizers destroying a peaceful Martian civilization. The novel for which Bradbury is best known, Fahrenheit 451 was published three years later in 1953.
In 2000, Bradbury received an honorary National Book Award, accredited to him for his lifetime achievements, a prize won by distinguished others such as Philip Roth and Arthur Miller. Animated film Icarus Montgolfier earned him an Academy Award nomination and an Emmy for the teleplay of The Halloween Tree. Bradbury’s love of sci-fi was honored by Apollo astronauts naming a crater after his novel Dandelion Wine and an asteroid was also given the title of 9766 Bradbury.
Over his vast and highly esteemed career Bradbury has written more than fifty books. He was a writer and artist whose achievements are summarized perfectly by Christopher Isherwood, declaring the literary great as being “truly original” and a “very great and unusual talent.”