Ray Bradbury was born on August 22, 1920 in Waukegan, Illinois. He was surrounded by a loving extended family during his early childhood and formative years in Waukegan. Between 1926 and 1933, the Bradbury family moved back and forth between Waukegan and Tucson, Arizona. In 1931, at age eleven, young Ray began writing his own stories.
Bradbury was a reader and writer throughout his youth. He attributed to two incidents his lifelong habit of writing every day. The first of these, occurring when he was three years old, was his mother's taking him to see Lon Chaney's performance in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The second incident occurred in 1932, when a carnival entertainer, Mr. Electrico, touched the young man on the nose with an electrified sword, made his hair stand on end, and shouted, "Live forever!" Bradbury remarked, "I felt that something strange and wonderful had happened to me because of my encounter with Mr. Electrico...[he] gave me a future...I began to write, full-time. I have written every single day of my life since that day."
Bradbury did not attend college. Instead, he sold newspapers at the corner of South Norton Avenue and Olympic Boulevard. In regard to his education, Bradbury said: "Libraries raised me. I don't believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don't have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn't go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years."
It was in UCLA's Powell Library, in a study room with typewriters for rent, that Bradbury wrote his classic story of a book-burning future, The Fireman, which was about 25,000 words long. It was later published at about 50,000 words under the name Fahrenheit 451, for a total cost of $9.80, due to the library's typewriter-rental fees of ten cents per half-hour
Besides his extensive fiction work, Bradbury wrote many essays on the arts and culture, attracting the attention of critics in this field. Bradbury also hosted "The Ray Bradbury Theater" which was based on his short stories. Bradbury was a consultant for the American Pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair and the original exhibit housed in Epcot's Spaceship Earth geosphere at Walt Disney World. In the 1980s, Bradbury concentrated on detective fiction.
Ray Bradbury died in Los Angeles, California, on June 5, 2012, at the age of 91, after a lengthy illness.