Ray Bradbury and Edgar Rice BurroughsPosted: June 15, 2012
At the time of Ray Bradbury’s death last week, I had just read something by him for the first time in decades: his short reflection called “Take Me Home” in the Sci Fi-themed special double issue of The New Yorker (88(16): 66, June 4-11, 2012).
Reading his nostalgic piece invoked my own fond memories of the enthusiastic Junior High English teacher who first introduced me to Bradbury’s work. It also, along with the spate of obituaries and tributes that followed that last published work, highlighted some connections between Bradbury’s influences and my current profession.
Ray Bradbury championed libraries, to which he attributes his education as a writer. His “How Instead of Being Educated in College, I Was Graduated from Libraries or, Thoughts from a Chap Who Landed on the Moon in 1932” (Wilson Library Bulletin 45(9): 842-851, May 1971) is stored in UofL Libraries’ Robotic Retrieval System.
In addition to the role libraries played in his formation as a writer, Bradbury was influenced by Edgar Rice Burroughs. So was my colleague George McWhorter, who established the Nell Dismukes McWhorter Memorial Collection of Edgar Rice Burroughs, the largest institutional collection of Burroughs materials in the world, in the Special Collections department at UofL’s Ekstrom Library. McWhorter confirms that the collection includes letters from Bradbury.
Bradbury is not the only writer to acknowledge his debt to Burroughs. The Library of America has published two Burroughs titles, with introductions by Junot Díaz and Thomas Mallon; Michael Chabon contributed to the screenplay for the recent film John Carter, based on a story by Burroughs. The U.S. Postal Service is celebrating the centennial of Burroughs’ publications by issuing a Forever stamp of him later this summer.