Bradbury knew at an early age that we wanted to be a writer. Around the age of 11, he began imitating his favorite authors, such as Edgar Rice Burroughs, Edgar Allan Poe, Jules Verne, and H. G. Wells. In his teenage years, Bradbury began frequenting meetings of the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society and contributing short pieces to fanzines that were run and edited by older members of the group. Zines are works of ephemera made with simple reproductive technologies such as typewriters, Dittos, and Mimeographs, and generally have a small, devoted audience. Publications such as Imagination! Th Fanmag of th Future With a Future!, Science Fiction Fan, and Polaris gave Bradbury both a sense of community and a publishing space to practice his craft. Soon Bradbury would produce his own fanzine, Futuria Fantasia. Tracking down in which zines Bradbury published can be tricky because he would often use a variety of playful pseudonyms and sometimes his work would go uncredited. The zines are notable for their charm and exuberance and illustrate both Bradbury’s early attempts at authorship and the growing fandom in which he and others thrived.
Soon after making his first forays into amateur publishing in fanzines, Bradbury began submitting work to the pulps. Pulp magazines were a popular form of reading from the 1890s through the 1950s. The term pulp comes from the cheap, low quality wood pulp paper used to print the magazines. Descended from the penny dreadfuls and dime novels of the nineteenth century, pulps generally focused on specific genres, such as crime and detective stories, romance, science fiction and fantasy, or westerns. They were sold at newsstands, alongside daily papers and the more expensive glossy magazines, and featured vibrant and sensational cover art. While cultural consensus, both then and now, has generally dismissed the pulps as lowbrow, it should be noted that most of the major authors of genre fiction, such as Isaac Asimov, Robert Bloch, and Agatha Christie, as well as many authors associated with high literature, such as Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Kipling, frequently contributed to these magazines.
Many of Bradbury’s stories and novellas first appeared in various pulp magazines. Later, he would compile them into short story collections, such as Dark Carnival (1947) or incorporate them into novels, such as The Martian Chronicles (1950) and Fahrenheit 451 (1953). Some important pulp firsts for Bradbury are: a fan letter in Astounding Science Fiction, April 1939, his first story sale, “Pendulum,” in Super Science Stories, November 1941, his first author credit on a magazine cover with “Reunion” in Weird Tales, March 1944, his first title cover credit with “I, Rocket” in Amazing Stories, May 1944, and his first cover title with story specific art for “Undersea Guardians” in Amazing Stories, December 1944. Even after branching out into the glossies, Bradbury continued to fill the pulps’ pages with tales of thrilling wonder.
Bradbury began expanding his audience in the mid-1940s with an increase of publications in middlebrow magazines. Known as glossies or slicks, these more expensive magazines appealed to middle-class audiences and afforded Bradbury a greater cultural status. His earliest magazine stories were for Collier’s and Mademoiselle, and soon Bradbury would be publishing stories, essays, and cultural criticism in Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, Harper’s, Life, Playboy, and the Saturday Evening Post. In their obituary for him, The New York Times, itself another bulwark of middle-class America, stated that Bradbury was “the writer most responsible for bringing modern science fiction into the literary mainstream.” It was his appearance in the glossies, along with his emphasis on storytelling and poetic prose over the technical writing found in other science fiction, that made Bradbury both eminently readable and thoroughly influential. Like the works he published in the pulps, many of these stories would later be anthologized into collections, rewritten into longer pieces, or adapted for film and television.
Author of hundreds of stories and dozens of books and essays, Ray Bradbury is among the most prolific of popular 20th century American writers. While many of his stories first appeared in magazines, Bradbury regularly collected these stories into book length anthologies such as Dark Carnival, The Illustrated Man, and The Golden Apples of the Sun, and some of the stories served as kernels for longer works, such as The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451, and Dandelion Wine. The Anne Farr Hardin Collection contains first editions of all of Bradbury’s works as well as many later and alternate editions.
Arguably Bradbury’s most well-known work, Fahrenheit 451 deals with themes of authoritarianism, censorship, and the powers and pitfalls of communication technology. Bradbury combined two early short stories, “The Pedestrian” and “Bright Phoenix,” into “The Fireman,” a novella published in the February 1951 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction. The expanded novella became Fahrenheit 451, which was published with two other short stories — “The Playground”, “And the Rock Cried Out” — in both hardcover and paperback by Ballantine Books in October 1953, with a limited special edition run of 200 copies bound in asbestos boards (to make the book ‘unburnable’). The following year Hugh Hefner paid $400.00 for the serial rights, and the serialization in Playboy added credibility to the fledgling magazine and gave Bradbury broader publicity. In 1965, François Truffaut adapted the novel to film, and many subsequent authors and artists have alluded to the novel’s influence.
Though much of the inspiration for the novel can be found in Bradbury’s own life and times, as a culture we seem to have learned little from the past, and Fahrenheit 451 has proved enduring, influential, and perpetually prescient. As a child Bradbury reports that he wept when he learned of the burning of the Library of Alexandria, as a teenager he was appalled by the news of the Nazi book burnings, and as a young man working in publishing and screenwriting he was angered and disgusted by McCarthyism and the House Un-American Activities Committee Hearings. The novel’s themes of oppression, suppression, and disconnection continually speak to the cultural crises and dystopian fears of our present moment, and Fahrenheit 451 may be more important now than ever.
In addition to publishing stories in magazines and books, Ray Bradbury wrote for film, radio, television, and the stage, and many of his works have been adapted by others. Bradbury wrote the original treatment for the movie It Came from Outer Space, which was Universal’s first foray into 3-D monster movies. He also wrote episodes for Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone. He adapted many of his early stories for The Ray Bradbury Theater, which ran on HBO and USA from 1985-1992, and in 1994 he won an Emmy Award for adapting his story collection The Halloween Tree. Bradbury wrote the screenplay for John Huston’s adaptation of Moby Dick, staring Gregory Peck. Huston and Bradbury had a tense working relationship, and Bradbury would later fictionalize the experience in his novel Green Shadows, White Whale. In 1965, François Truffaut adapted Fahrenheit 451 to film, and since then others have adapted Bradbury’s works, such as The Illustrated Man, Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Martian Chronicles, for both film and television. Many of these adaptations prompted the production of promotional print ephemera, such as movie posters and press kits, many of which are part of the Anne Farr Hardin Collection.
One of the most remarkable things about the Anne Hardin Collection are the numerous inscriptions from Bradbury and others. With a doodle of a rocket ship, a short message, or by altering a few words of a title the full force of Bradbury’s personality comes alive. Bradbury playfulness and sense of humor come through in things like a note to Anne joking about a new Italian edition of his work that uses a photo from the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still as its cover, or a dandelion drawn in marker in Dandelion Wine.
Many of the notes are to Anne Hardin, but many are to others in Bradbury’s orbit. In the first edition of The Martian Chronicle, Bradbury left a tender note to his wife, the book’s dedicatee, but you will also find a set of Robert Goddard air mail stamps and newspaper clippings with advertisements and reviews for the book. A copy of Something Wicked This Way Comes contains an inscription to actor and dancer Gene Kelly and his wife and choreographer Jeanne Coyne.
While most of the Anne Farr Hardin Collection consists of printed works by Ray Bradbury, there is also a considerable amount of memorabilia and ephemera, which are objects that weren’t meant to last. These are things like flyers, playbills, and programs. The Collection also contains things like the many toys and realia that Bradbury collected. Dinosaurs were a favorite of Bradbury’s, along with anything related to Halloween.