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The depiction of childhood in ray bradburys works

Books Obituaries Ray Bradbury Ray Bradbury, who has died aged 91, was, because of his best-known novel, Fahrenheit 451, routinely described as a science fiction writer; in fact, his work was mostly fantasy which combined the Gothic and the pastoral in almost mythic depictions of childhood, innocence, corruption and — above all else — small-town America.

The arrival of technologies he had anticipated did nothing to change such views: He continued to use a typewriter rather than a computer.

Most remarkably, he managed to live almost all his life in Los Angeles without ever learning to drive.

Stepping out of their craft, astronauts discover not a desolate red planet, but Greentown, Illinois, homely, welcoming, and populated with their relatives and friends, including those who have died.

  • He adapted 59 of his short stories for the television series The Ray Bradbury Theatre 1985—92;
  • In 1969, three of the other stories provided the basis for a film of the same name, starring Rod Steiger and Claire Bloom;
  • In 1969, three of the other stories provided the basis for a film of the same name, starring Rod Steiger and Claire Bloom;
  • Large retrospective collections appeared in 1965 and in two volumes in 1983;
  • From 1985 to 1992, he wrote and supervised much of the television series, The Ray Bradbury Theatre;
  • At the same time his work was finding a wider audience through television, where they were adapted for such shows as Suspense, Starlight Summer Theater and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

They decide that it is paradise, only to discover, when night falls, that it is an illusion created by hellish monsters. He published some 500 short stories and, of his 11 novels, none much longer than a novella, several were assembled from loosely connected stories or fictionalised autobiographical essays.

His father Leonard was a telephone and electrical lineman whose father and grandfather had been newspaper publishers; a more distant ancestor was the Mary Bradbury who, though never executed, was convicted and sentenced to death at the Salem witchcraft trials in the late 17th century. Even before the reading bug bit, he had been a devotee of the Gothic, having been taken at the age of three by his Swedish mother to see Lon Chaney in a film of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Magic tricks were another obsession. The latter enthusiasm was reinforced by the arrival in town of the Dill Brothers Sideshow and Carnival when he was 12. One of the acts, a defrocked Presbyterian minister who appeared under the name Mr Electrico, tapped him on the nose with an electrified sword which caused his hair to stand on end, and delivered the instruction: By the end of the following year, Bradbury had devoted himself to writing full-time.

The last tale in particular, about parents who become convinced their baby is trying to murder them, was widely anthologised. Bradbury later disowned some of the more gruesome stories which he had written during this period, but many were adapted for EC Comics during the early 1950s. At the same time his work was finding a wider audience through television, where they were adapted for such shows as Suspense, Starlight Summer Theater and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Two further collections, The Illustrated Man 1951 and The Golden Apples of the Sun 1953which included some of his finest stories, followed. In 1969, three of the other stories provided the basis for a film of the same name, starring Rod Steiger and Claire Bloom.

Ray Bradbury

On their return, they discover that one of them has stepped on a butterfly, that the world has changed irrevocably, and that a tyrant has become president. By then The Martian Chronicles, a series of interconnected stories billed as a novel, which was published for many years in Britain as The Silver Locusts, had made his name.

The book was praised not only by Isherwood, upon whom Bradbury had pressed it during a chance encounter in a bookshop, but by luminaries such as the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges. This reputation was cemented by Fahrenheit 451, his first novel proper, which took its title from the ignition point of paper.

Bradbury, who completed the novel in nine days in the Powell library, often wrote of the importance of reading and frequently made appearances for which he never charged a fee in public libraries, which he thought more important than universities.

The book became a staple of school reading lists and was stylishly filmed by Francois Truffaut in 1966. During the following decade Bradbury produced two more novels, Dandelion Wine 1957 and Something Wicked This Way Comes 1962both of which dealt with adolescence in small-town America — the first in a series of gradually darkening pastoral vignettes and the second with a Dionysian relish for mayhem and the Gothic — and a substantial number of short stories.

But although his reputation continued to grow and his output remained prodigious, the majority of his best work in print was completed before 1960.

ADDITIONAL MEDIA

Though his stories eventually appeared in almost 1,000 anthologies, later collections, of which the most significant were I Sing the Body Electric 1969 and The Toynbee Convector 1988 seldom reached the heights of his early work.

Large retrospective collections appeared in 1965 and in two volumes in 1983. In part, this was due to his concentration on poetry and on the stage, which had always been a strong interest. Bradbury wrote more than 20 plays, including some adaptations of his books and had his own theatre company, Pandemonium. But, perhaps unsurprisingly for a resident of Los Angeles, his dramatic successes were principally in film and television.

The films It Came From Outer Space and The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms both 1953 were based on his stories and, on television, adaptations of his work provided the basis for many shows, including several episodes of The Twilight Zone in both the original series and its revival during the 1980s. Bradbury himself wrote only one major feature film screenplay, with the director John Huston for his film of Moby Dick 1956which starred Gregory Peck, though he was responsible for several screen treatments and adaptations.

From 1985 to 1992, he wrote and supervised much of the television series, The Ray Bradbury Theatre. The film world provided the setting for his crime novel A Graveyard for Lunatics 1990which featured a thinly disguised Harryhausen.

Some critics felt that his crime fiction, to which he returned for the first time since writing for pulp magazines in the 1940s with Death is a Lonely Business in 1985, marked a return to form.

Bradbury also published a dozen books for children and several on writing, and won numerous awards. In 2001, he claimed he had written every day of his life since his childhood encounter with Mr Electrico.

His most recent novel, Farewell Summer 2007was a sequel to Dandelion Wine. Ray Bradbury married, in 1947, Marguerite McClure; she died in 2003. They had four daughters.

  • Electrico, in 1932 as a notable influence;
  • You want predictions about the future?

Ray Bradbury, born August 22 1920, died June 6 2012.