Best Known For
American fantasy and horror author Ray Bradbury is best known for his novels Fahrenheit 451, The Illustrated Man and The Martian Chronicles.
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That same year, he married Marguerite "Maggie" McClure, whom he met while she was working as a clerk at a bookstore. McClure was the breadwinner in the early days of their marriage, supporting Bradbury as he worked on his writing for little to no pay. The couple had four daughters, Susan (1949), Ramona (1951), Bettina (1955) and Alexandra (1958).
In 1950, Bradbury published his first major work, The Martian Chronicles,
which detailed the conflict between humans colonizing the red planet and the native Martians they encountered there. While taken by many to be a work of science fiction, Bradbury himself considered it to be fantasy. "I don't write science fiction," he said. "Science fiction is a depiction of the real. Fantasy is a depiction of the unreal. So Martian Chronicles is not science fiction, it's fantasy. It couldn't happen, you see?" Television and comic book adaptations of Bradbury's short stories began to appear in 1951, introducing him to a wider audience.
Bradbury's best-known work, Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953, became an instant classic in the era of McCarthyism for its exploration of themes of censorship and conformity. In 2007, Bradbury himself disputed that censorship was the main theme of Fahrenheit 451, instead explaining the book as a story about how television drives away interest in reading: "Television gives you the dates of Napoleon, but not who he was."
Despite his apparent distaste for television, Bradbury advocated for film adaptations of his work. He wrote numerous screenplays and treatments, including a 1956 take on Moby Dick. In 1986, Bradbury developed his own HBO television series, allowing him to produce adaptations of his short stories. The series ran until 1992.
Famously prolific, Bradbury wrote for several hours every day throughout his entire life, allowing him to publish more than 30 books, close to 600 short stories, and numerous poems, essays, screenplays and plays.
Though Bradbury won many honors and awards throughout his life, his favorite was perhaps being named "ideas consultant" for the United States Pavilion at the 1964 World's Fair. "Can you imagine how excited I was?" he later said about the honor. "'Cause I'm changing lives, and that's the thing. If you can build a good museum, if you can make a good film, if you can build a good world's fair, if you can build a good mall, you're changing the future. You're influencing people, so that they'll get up in the morning and say, 'Hey, it's worthwhile going to work.' That's my function, and it should be the function of every science fiction writer around. To offer hope. To name the problem and then offer the solution. And I do, all the time."
Bradbury wrote well into his 90s, dictating for three hours at a time to one of his daughters, who would transcribe his words to the page. Though curtailing much of his traveling and public appearances, he granted several interviews in recent years and helped raise funds for his local library.
In 2007, Bradbury received a special citation from the Pulitzer board for his "distinguished, prolific and deeply influential career as an unmatched author of science fiction and fantasy." In his final years, Bradbury felt content about his place in the annals of science fiction history, having achieved his childhood ambition of living forever through his work.
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