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Did Any Famous Science-Fiction Writers Grow up in Poverty?

Ray Bradbury wrote some of the world's greatest science-fiction works, including Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles, but the way he came to writing was the stuff of dramatic realism. Long before he was a published writer, Ray Bradbury was a high school student from an impoverished family. In fact, his family was so poor that when Bradbury graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1938, the only suit he could manage to borrow was the one his uncle had been wearing when he was shot and killed during a hold-up.

Bradbury grew up in Waukegan, Illinois, spending many hours reading books by H.G. Wells and Jules Verne at the library while his father looked for employment. Over time, Bradbury learned to dedicate a part of every day to writing, and he dreamed of a future where his words could translate into money. But at the height of the Great Depression, things didn't look promising. Despite several moves that ended up taking the family to Los Angeles, Bradbury's father was still struggling to find steady work, and the family was relying on financial aid from the government just to get by. According to Bradbury, while he and his siblings had come to accept that most of their clothes would be hand-me-downs, his graduation really brought home the point: the suit had bullet holes in the front and in the back from his uncle's violent death.

Bradbury basics:

  • Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 in nine days in the basement of the UCLA library.
  • Bradbury dismissed computers and the Internet, calling the latter "old-fashioned" because the back-and-forth of email is so much slower than a simple phone call.
  • Bradbury never learned to drive a car, possibly because he once witnessed a terrible accident in which six people were killed.
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