One of America’s favorite science fiction authors, the late Ray Bradbury, was born on August 22, 1920. His best-known tales, all premiering in the early 1950s, are The Martian Chronicles, I Sing the Body Electric, The Illustrated Man, and his masterwork, Fahrenheit 451.
Originally from Waukegan, Illinois, Bradbury’s father moved his family west during the Great Depression, ultimately settling in Los Angeles. As a teen Bradbury was fascinated by Hollywood celebrities and would sneak into the movies and seek out the autographs of his favorite stars. At the age of 17, his first story to appear in print, "Hollerbochen's Dilemma," was published in Imagination!, a short-lived fanzine issued by the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society. "The Lake," the first story he sold, was published in the May 1944 issue of Weird Tales.
In Rare Books and Special Collections, we have more than 400 science fiction and fantasy pulps from the 1930-1960s. Among our titles is the first issue of Fantastic Universe, which includes contributions by major authors Philip K. Dick, Arthur C. Clarke, and Bradbury. Although not in our collection, Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 began as "The Fireman," a novella published in the February 1951 issue of another popular pulp, Galaxy Science Fiction.
RBSC is home to an autographed copy of Match to Flame: The Fictional Paths to Fahrenheit 451. Printed in a limited edition run of 750 copies by Gauntlet Publishing in 2006, Match to Flame tracks the origins of the classic 1953 novel through its numerous incarnations, many of which were previously unpublished stories. The tale of a totalitarian society in which books are prohibited, the title refers to the temperature at which paper catches fire without being exposed to a flame. Bradbury passed away on June 5, 2012 at the age of 91.
Plan your visit to Special Collections by calling 314-539-0370.