“I believe in libraries because most students don’t have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression, and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.”
“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”
“I don’t try to describe the future. I try to prevent it.”
“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”
“First you jump off the cliff and you build wings on the way down.”
— Ray Bradbury
Ray Douglas Bradbury was born on this day in Waukegan, Illinois in 1922. Today is the is the 91st anniversary of his birth.
He was born to Leonard and Moberg Bradbury. He “enjoyed a relatively idyllic childhood in Waukegan” [Biography.com] where he enjoyed reading (he was a big fan of “Frank Baum, Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs” [Ibid] His family moved between Tucson Arizona and Waukegan when he was a boy, and Ray began to write when he was about 11. This was during the Depression and he sometimes had to write on butcher’s paper. The family moved to LA in 1934 and Bradbury continued to hone his craft. “His first official pay as a writer came for contributing a joke to George Burns‘s Burns & Allen Show.” [Ibid] He thrived in Los Angeles. He would roller skate from the gates of the film studios to dinner clubs like the Brown Derby to star gaze and collect autographs.
When he graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1938 and wanted to go to college, but he couldn’t afford it. He went to the library instead. He sold newspapers at South North Ave and Olympic Boulevard to support himself as he wrote. In 1939 he started his own magazine, Futuria Fantasia
Nearly every piece in the magazine was written by Bradbury himself; he used a variety of pseudonyms to try to hide the fact that the magazine was a virtual one-man show. “I was still years away from writing my first good short story,” he later said, “but I could see my future. I knew where I wanted to go.” [Ibid]
[Annual collections of Futuria Fantasia are available for free for Kindle at Amazon.com.]
Bradbury sold his first professional story, “Pendulum” to Super Science Stories in November of 1941 for a whopping $15.00. By then he was writing every day, a habit he continued for the rest of his life.
His works include
- short stories
- television scripts
perhaps most famous among his over 500 published manuscripts were four books…
- The Martian Chronicles (1950)
- The Illustrated Man (1951)
- Something Wicked This Way Comes 
- Fahrenheit 451 (1953)
It is the latter that is perhaps my favorite. In it Bradbury predicts a dystopian future where firemen set fires to burn books. (Paper burns at 451 degrees Fahrenheit)
The people in this society do not read books, enjoy nature, spend time by themselves, think independently, or have meaningful conversations. Instead, they drive very fast, watch excessive amounts of television on wall-size sets, and listen to the radio on “Seashell Radio” sets attached to their ears. [Sparknotes.com]
[You can read Farenheit 451 HERE — or go for the ultimate ode to Bradbury …and roller skate to the LIBRARY to read it there!]
He wrote into his 90’s. He died at the age of 91 on June 5th, 2012.
- The Ray Bradbury Resource Page (costumesupercenter.com)
- Picturing Ray Bradbury (tor.com)
- Ray Bradbury reading his poem “If Only We Had Taller… (itsokaytobesmart.com)