AP English Literature and Composition 12/10/10 Ray Bradbury Biography On August 22, 1920, in Waukegan, Illinois, Ray Douglas Bradbury was born to Leonard and Esther Bradbury (Jepsen and Johnston). With his grandparents living next door, Ray grew up surrounded by family. At the age of two, Bradbury’s grandfather first introduced him to radio; at the age of three, Bradbury’s mother, Esther, took him to see his first film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Weller 27) . Esther had a profound influence on Bradbury, regularly taking him to the cinema and fostering his love of film. Although she regularly took Bradbury to the movies, Esther has just lost one of her two- year-old twin sons, and she vowed that the same fate would not fall on her youngest child. She kept close watch on Bradbury, bottle-feeding him until the age of six, and spoon-feeding him until the brink of his teen years. Bradbury’s extremely sheltered childhood has had great impact on his personality, making him extremely sensitive. This nature is evident in the sentimentalist nature of much of his work (Weller 25). One influence that has had even more impact on Bradbury than his mother and his sheltered childhood is his aunt, Neva. Neva, just ten years older than Bradbury, shared her love of the arts with him. Neva and Bradbury shared a love of fantasy and the fantastic. For Christmas when Bradbury was four, Neva gave him Once Upon a Time , his first fantasy book. When he was five, Neva introduced Bradbury to L. Frank Baum’s Oz series, which enchanted him with its illustrations and whimsical style (Weller 30). Neva continued to influence Bradbury throughout his life, until her death on March 16, 2001 (Weller 326)
Another major influence on Bradbury has been his hometown, Waukegan, Illinois. Waukegan, a small town on the bank of Lake Michigan, was Bradbury’s home until the age of thirteen. In Bradbury’s time, Waukegan was a popular vacation town, the beaches crowded in the summer.
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