Ray Bradbury, 1920-2012

We’re very sad to hear that the beloved author Ray Bradbury died last night in Los Angeles. He was 91.

In 2004 The Missouri Review published as part of our “found text” series, a collection of letters by Ray Bradbury to his British publisher Rupert Hart-Davis. We became interested in the letters because they show a close, more than fifty-year relationship between writer and publisher. The men, both enthusiastic lovers of books, occasionally met over the years to sit down and go over edits. Perhaps strange for a writer, Bradbury loved to be edited, particularly by a man as astute about literature as Hart-Davis. He also loved travelling abroad and meeting people whose work interested him. The letters are full of accounts to his publisher of his encounters with the critic and collector of Italian art Bernard Berenson, movie director John Houston, and philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell.

In the foreword to the feature, we marveled at Bradbury’s prolific output as a writer of science fiction and fantasy. He wrote over six hundred short stories, twenty-seven novels, movie scripts, essays, poetry and plays. He was one of the most anthologized writers in American literary history. At least five of his stories were winners of Best American and O. Henry awards.

Bradbury was nominated for an Academy Award for his screenplay Icarus Montgolfier Wright, adapted from his short story about the history of flight, and his screenplay for John Huston’s Moby Dick was greatly praised.

He was best known for his novels Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451, which is still standard high school reading.  The dystopian novel, a Cold War satire against government control of thought, was made into a film written and directed by Francois Truffaut in 1966.  These three works in particular have lasting literary interest.

Kris Somerville is the marketing director of The Missouri Review