is a list of frequently asked questions about Ray Bradbury and his
work. It has been compiled from various sources, and inspired by
the posts on the Message
Board of the official Ray Bradbury website.
This is the
second draft version of the FAQ, updated September 19, 2013 - and it still needs work... Any suggestions
or corrections are most welcome.
Who is Ray
Ray Douglas Bradbury is an American writer. Born in 1920 in
Waukegan, Illinois, he began writing at the age of twelve, and began
a professional writing career in the late 1930s. He has been active
Is he still
Unfortunately not. Ray Bradbury died on June 5, 2012 at the age of 91.
Are there any new Bradbury books still to come?
Bradbury left an enormous amount of material, which is still (in 2013) being catalogued. It remains to be seen whether any new books will come to light - but it has to be said that many of the Bradbury books published in recent years have been of historical material such as the screenplays for It Came From Outer Space and Moby Dick.
Is he a science
This is a matter of debate, or even dispute. While it is certainly
true that some of his best known work (Fahrenheit 451, and
short stories such "A Sound of Thunder" and "The
Veldt") is in the science fiction genre, the bulk of his work
probably does not fit easily into the science fiction category.
If it is necessary to apply a single genre designation to Bradbury's
work, "fantasy" is probably a better fit. But that would
be to ignore some of his contemporary fiction, his crime stories,
etc. Look here
for an attempt to classify each of Bradbury's tales.
About five hundred short stories, about ten novels, about twenty
short story collections, several collections of poetry, many plays...
For details of Bradbury's books, look here.
For a fairly definitive short story list, look here.
are recommended for beginners?
A matter of opinion, but the novel Fahrenheit 451 is
considered a classic of science fiction.So too is The Martian
Chronicles. For short stories, there are two comprehensive collections
called The Stories of Ray Bradbury and Bradbury Stories.
stories have been made into films?
order: The Beast
From 20,000 Fathoms, Fahrenheit 451, The Illustrated Man, The
Picasso Summer, The Screaming Woman (for TV), Something Wicked
This Way Comes, The Electric Grandmother (for TV), The Halloween
Tree (for TV), The Wonderful Ice-Cream Suit, A Sound of Thunder. A
new version of Fahrenheit 451 has been discussed for over a decade, but remains in "development hell", as does a new version of The Illustrated Man. In addition,
many of Bradbury's stories have been adapted for television - the
most notable of these being for Alfred
Hitchcock Presents and Ray
Bradbury Theater. There have also been numerous short films.
For a detailed list of film and TV adaptations, look here.
What is the
title of the story in which...
this can be difficult to answer, but an ideal place to pose them
if you are sure it is a Bradbury story is the Message Board
at the official Ray
Bradbury website. Please give as much information about the
story as possible.
In my schooldays,
we were shown a short film based on a Bradbury story. What was it
called, and where can I get a copy?
This is probably All Summer in a Day, a popular film for
the classroom (apparently). The only current online source for buying
this on video is here.
write romantic fiction under a pseudonym?
Er, no. (If he does, it is a very well kept secret that not even his biographer or literary biographer knw about.)
One of my
favourite short stories is called [insert title here]. Where can
I find it?
Try this comprehensive short
How can I
Via his publisher:
10 East 53rd Street
Does/did he use
No. Bradbury didn't
even own a computer, and was very critical of computers and the internet.
I have seen Bradbury letters for sale on eBay. Are these genuine?
Ray gained a reputation for being very friendly
towards his fans, and there were many instances where he replied
to fan letters, and these do appear on auction sites from time to time. Bradbury also spent a lot of time autographing books and memorabilia. His friend William F. Nolan liked to joke that an unsigned Bradbury book was rarer than a signed one. So there is a lot of genuine signed Bradbury material out there, but you would need to consult an expert to verify any particular item.
He was born and raised in Waukegan, Illinois; he lived briefly in Arizona as a child; and from his teens onwards he lived in Los Angeles.
Is it true
that he couldn't drive and wouldn't fly?
Ray did not drive. In interviews and in his writings
he gave various explanations of this: not being able to afford
to when he was young; not needing to because of good bus service
in Los Angeles; his love of train travel; and witnessing a fatal car crash in his early years in Los Angeles. But he also argued
very strongly that the automobile is one of our worst inventions,
and famously pointed out that it is a bigger killer than many armed
conflicts. In his fiction, there is often a strong disdain of the
car. His short story "The Pedestrian" features a man who
gets arrested simply for taking a walk. The novel Fahrenheit
451 describes billboards which have grown to immense length
to ensure that motorists passing at hundreds of miles an hour might
still be able to read them.
For many years,
Ray was a non-flyer, especially for domestic travel where he preferred
to go by train or be chauffeured. From sometime in the 1970s, however,
he became a (reluctant) flyer. He became a consultant to the Disney
corporation during the development of Disneyland Europe, and found
it necessary to occasionally fly to Paris (which became one of his
written an autobiography?
Not as such, no. However, some of his fiction is autobiographical, most notably
the novel Dandelion Wine. You may sometimes see mention of a supposed autobiography called The Dogs That Eat Sweet Grass - but this is actually a transcript of a long interview, and was published without permission, and all copies are believed to have been destroyed. (The original interview transcript belongs to UCLA, and still exists. It is available for consultation by researchers, but not to the general public.)
any biographies of Bradbury?
Yes. The authorised biography is The Bradbury Chronicles by Sam Weller, published while Ray was still alive. There is also a highly detailed literary biography from Jonathan R. Eller, called Becoming Ray Bradbury (and a sequel volume coming soon). For the visually minded, there is Ray Bradbury: an Illustrated Life by Jerry Weist, which recounts Bradbury's career through images from his books and media projects.
I get scripts of Bradbury's plays?
The largest collection of titles is available from Dramatic
How can I
get permission to perform one of Bradbury's plays?
You should usually contact the publisher of the play. Dramatic Publishing
give some guidance for the titles they publish here.
Ray Bradbury's religious views?
It is not for any of us to put words in Ray's mouth, but Mr Dark
offers the following succinct summary:
religious views seem to include a kind of "soft" humanism with an
acceptance of the use of the term "god" but without a traditional
connotation of a personal God. He uses religious metaphors, symbols
and terminology to describe his moral views of mankind. He has a
prejudice for freedom, for love, for beauty, and for community;
and believes in an on-going struggle between good and evil.
his political views?
Again, it is not for us to put words in his mouth, but in recent
interviews Ray declared all politicians to be fools, and
declared his support of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
views towards the end of his life, try this
quite well known for his views on censorship. Mr Dark offers the
following information for anyone interested in exploring Ray's views
on this topic:
In his foreword
in the 40th anniversary edition of Fahrenheit 451 (Simon
and Schuster, NY, 1993) Bradbury addresses the issues leading to
his focus on censorship. They included the following (some direct,
contemporary experiences, some things he'd read about):
of the "Un-American Activities Committee (prior to the McCarthy
- The McCarthy
hearings and issues related to that period. (He discusses McCarthy's
removal of books from the Army's library, and Eisenhower's return
of those books to the shelves.)
- The witch
hunts in Salem (in which an ancestor was charged, but not burned).
- The burning
of the Alexandrian Library in ancient history. -- His love of
libraries and bookstores. -- An encounter with a policeman while
out for a walk, which led to the writing of "The Pedestrian".
This led to the character Montag, and to Fahrenheit 451.
- He says
he could not afford college, so he lived in libraries.
- He also
cites his love of books and ideas as driving him to oppose censorship
and the restriction of ideas.
- He also
cites Hugh Hefner and the founding of Playboy magazine which Bradbury
cites as a venture that had to overcome a "frightened nation"
and which, according to Bradbury, "shocked and improved" the world.
Obviously, he sees Playboy as an effort to overcome censorhip
and the fear of ideas. He recounts his library/book/censorship
stories as including: "The Bonfire," "Bright Phoenix," "The Exiles,"
"Usher II," all leading up to F451. He says he has probably written
more stories, novels, plays, poems, etc., about libraries than
any other writer today. He cites the library in "Something Wicked
This Way Comes" as the central battleground between good and evil
(Mr. Dark and Mr. Halloway). I love this line: "All the women
in my life have been teachers, librarians or booksellers. I found
my wife, Maggie, in a bookship in the spring of 1946."
Obviously, there are a lot of influences in Bradbury's focus on
issues of censorship and the restriction of ideas. I think his love
of ideas is, however, the driving force . . . his unwavering belief
that the free exchange of ideas is what will allow mankind to achieve
the best possible in him.
Did Ray Bradbury
write for TV shows?
Yes. He wrote several scripts for Alfred
Hitchcock Presents, one episode of The Twilight Zone,
and sixty-five episodes of The
Ray Bradbury Theater. For more detail look here.
Are any of
Bradbury's stories available on the web?
Very little of
Ray's work is officially available for free on the web, but his books are now being made available as e-books. Check any good online bookshop for details...
I buy Ray Bradbury books?
Any good bookshop! The hardest thing is usually finding the right
shelf. If you can't find him under general fiction, try the Science
Fiction shelf. Online sources include Amazon
any books of literary criticism of Bradbury?
The following information is provided by Mr Dark:
There are actually
quite a few books on Bradbury and his writing:
- RAY BRADBURY
(WRITERS OF THE 21ST CENTURY SERIES) Ed. Joseph D. Olander, Martin
Harry Greenberg. Taplinger Publishing Co, NY. 1980
ON RAY BRADBURY: FARENHEIT 451. Ed. Katie de Koster. Greenhaven
Press, San Diego. 2000.
- RAY BRADBURY:
A CRITICAL COMPANION (CRITICAL COMPANIONS TO POPULAR CONTEMPORARY
WRITERS). Robin Ann Reid. Greenwood Press, CT. 2000.
- RAY BRADBURY
(TWAYNE'S UNITED STATES AUTHORS SERIES). David Mogen. Twayne Publishers,
451 AND RELATED WRITINGS:RAY BRADBURY (LITERATURE CONNECTIONS).
McDougall Little, Evanstan IL. 1998.
- RAY BRADBURY'S
FAHRENHEIT 451 (MODERN CRITICAL INTERPRETATIONS). ed. Harold Bloom.
Chelsea House Pub, Philadelphia. 2003.
- THE RAY
BRADBURY COMPANION. William F. Nolan. Gale Research, Detroit.
AN ILLUSTRATED LIFE -- A JOURNEY TO FAR METAPHOR. Jerry Weist.
William Morrow, NY. 2002.
- RAY BRADBURY: THE LIFE OF FICTION. Jonathan R.Eller and William F. Touponce. Kent State University Press.
- RAY BRADBURY
(STARMONT READERS GUIDE No.31). William F. Touponce. Borgo Press
- THE BRADBURY
CHRONICLES (THE MILFORD SERIES). George Edgar Slusser. Borgo Press
- RAY BRADBURY
AND THE POETICS OF REVERIE: GASTON BACHELARD, WOLFGANG ISER AND
THE READER'S RESPONSE TO FANTASTIC LITERATURE William F. Touponce.
Borgo Press 1998.
any study guides for Bradbury's books?
Yes. There is
a free online resource called SparkNotes,
which has detailed plot descriptions, character analyses etc for
several Bradbury books. (You may need to register - for free - to
access the full set of notes.) Another, similar resource is Pink
Notes have a couple of titles, in traditional book form.
has Bradbury used?
Who is Douglas
Douglas is a fictional character name that has been used in several
works by Bradbury. Most notably the lead character of Dandelion
Wine, Douglas is usually assumed to be a fictionalised version
of Bradbury himself (Bradbury has confirmed this in many interviews.
His own middle name is Douglas, and his father's middle name was
Spaulding). However, the character name has also been used in related
and apparently unrelated short stories, leading to some speculation/dispute
as to whether these stories really are connected, or whether Bradbury
just likes the name. Douglas stories include "One Timeless
Spring" and "The Utterly Perfect Murder." For more speculations
Bradbury's short stories been put together into short story collections?
No. See the Short Story Finder for "uncollected
to date" stories; see also this
developing thread which discusses lost, collected and uncollected
tales. There is an ongoing programme from Kent State University Press to publish Bradbury's short stories in a scholarly edition in chronological order of original publication, which is currently projected to be three volumes (although this wouldn't be enough to include every story, so the series will either be in complete, or it will have to be extended.)
published a "complete works" of Bradbury?
Not yet. The closest to this would be the two mammoth short story
collections The Stories
of Ray Bradbury and Bradbury
Stories. These give quite comprehensive coverage of Bradbury's
career and different writing styles, but are not complete (and do
not claim to be). There is also an ongoing programme from Kent State University Press to publish Bradbury's short stories in a scholarly edition in chronological order of original publication, which is currently projected to be three volumes (although this wouldn't be enough to include every story, so the series will either be in complete, or it will have to be extended.)
Bradbury has made novels out of old stories, could there be more
"uncompiled" novels waiting to be fixed-up?
With Ray's passing, this cannot happen. For previous speculations on this, see
the thread on "dream"
books, and the thread which discusses a hypotethical "Martian
has Bradbury written?
A cronological listing appears here.
written much non-fiction?
Yes. An excellent book on ideas and writing, called Zen in the
Art of Writing (Joshua Odell Editions, Santa Barbara, 1996);
Yestermorrow: Obvious Answers to Impossible Futures (Joshua
Odell Editions, Santa Barbara, 1991); many forewords and afterwords
discussing his stories and books; and numerous magazine articles
- look here
for a chronological listing.
novels really novels?
This question arises out of the fact that most of Bradbury's novel-length
books are actually stitched together from previously published short
stories. This practice is/was not uncommon in the days of genre
pulp publishing; the science fiction writer A.E. Van Vogt coined
the term "fix-up" to describe such a novel. Bradbury's
first novel The Martian Chronicles is an example of a fix-up,
in this case suggested to Ray by the publisher Walter I. Bradbury
(no relation). It is possible that in later years Ray consciously
wrote some of his novels piecemeal, publishing fragments as short
stories and ultimately issuing the complete work as a novel. Exceptions
to the fix-up rule include Something Wicked This Way Comes
(although this began life as a short story and a film treatment),
Death is a Lonely Business, A Graveyard for Lunatics,
Let's All Kill Constance.
Mr Dark points
out that major works by other authors have also followed this style,
such as Winesburg Ohio by Sherwood Anderson and In Our
Time by Ernest Hemingway; Bradbury has cited Anderson as being
one of his influences.