Ursula Le Guin – ‘A Born Writer’

 

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Ursula Le Guin was born on the 21st of October 1929. She is an American author who writes in the genres of fantasy and science fiction. Ursula is most famous for her ‘Tales from Earthsea’ fantasy series. There are six books in this series and they have sold millions of copies throughout America and England. These books have also been translated into sixteen different languages. Many fans of Hayao Miyazaki (maker of anime feature films) will recognise the title ‘Tales from Earthsea’ from the 2006 movie.

Ursula was interested in reading and writing at a very young age. At age 9 she had written her first fantasy story and at age 11 she had a science fiction story published in a magazine called Astounding Science Fiction. Ursula is the daughter of anthropologist Alfred Kroeber and writer Theodora Kroeber. Her father’s career in anthropology influenced some of her science fiction stories, some of which included highly detailed descriptions of alien societies.

Here are some interesting facts about Ursula Le Guin:

Ursula met her husband while travelling to France, his name was Charles Le Guin. Charles was a historian.

‘Tales from Earthsea’ was written for children, but because of her attention to detail and great writing skills it appealed to a larger adult audience.

Ursula grew up with three older brothers, in an intellectually stimulating environment created by their parents. All of them were encouraged to read from a young age.

From 1951 – 1961 Ursula wrote five novels which were all rejected by publishers because they were deemed too inaccessible.

In the 1960’s Ursula’s work seemed to pick up and she was becoming more successful. It was also during this period that she experienced bouts of depression. She has described this as “dark passages that I had to work through.” In one of her novels from ‘Tales of the Earthsea’ she has used a quote from Rilke’s ‘Duino Elegies’ – “Depression as a journey through the silent land of the dead.

One of the places that Ursula likes to go is to the high desert of eastern Oregon with her husband Charles. She enjoys the awareness that the desert gives her of distance, emptiness, and geological time.

Ursula’s major influences are – J.R.R. Tolkien, Philip K. Dick, Leo Tolstoy, The Bronte sisters and Virginia Woolf.

Ursula is known as a writer who has broken down the walls of genre and has taught many other writers to step out of their ‘genre comfort zones.’

Please have a look at some of Ursula Le Guin’s writing:

Earthsea Series:

–          A Wizard of Earthsea

–          The Tombs of Atuan

–          The Farthest Shore

–          Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea

–          Tales from Earthsea

–          The Other Wind

Other Novels:

–          Lavinia

–          The Lathe of Heaven

–          The Eye of the Heron

–          Always Coming Home

–          Annals of the Western Shore

–          The Compass Rose

–          Searoad: Chronicles of Klatsand

–          The Wind’s Twelve Quarters

–          The Beginning place

–          Orsinian Tales

Hainish Science Fiction (Hainish Cycle is a number of science fiction novels an alternate history/future)

–          Rocannon’s World

–          Planet of Exile

–          City of Illusions

–          The Left Hand of Darkness

–          This Dispossessed

–          The Word for World is Forest

–          Four Ways to Forgiveness

–          The Telling

 

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Bram Stoker – The man behind ‘Dracula’

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Abraham Stoker or Bram Stoker as most ‘Dracula’ fans know him, was born the 8th of November 1847. He died in 1912 at the age of 64. He Is an Irish author best known for the novel ‘Dracula.’  He published ‘Dracula’ at the age of 50. Bram spent the early part of his childhood confined to his bed because of a mysterious illness. Looking back on this part of his life Bram mentions that “I was naturally thoughtful, and the leisure of long illness gave opportunity for many thoughts which were fruitful according to their kind in later years.” Bram married Florence Balcome and they had only one child together. This child they named Irving.

Here are some interesting facts about Bram Stoker:

Bram Stoker was the third child of seven.

Even though bed-ridden for most of his childhood he later on excelled in athletics being named University Athlete at Trinity College in Dublin.

Before Florence Balcome married Bram Stoker she actually had another suitor interested in her. His name was Oscar Wilde. Florence chose to be with Bram instead of Oscar. This left Oscar upset enough that he left the country.

Henry Irving and Bram Stoker became close friends. This happened when Bram wrote a review of Hamlet that impressed Henry. A few years later Bram ended up managing Henry Irving’s theatre and career.

‘Dracula’ was inspired by an essay written by Emily Gerard called ‘Transylvania Superstitions.’ Stoker himself had never visited Eastern Europe so he spent a lot of time on research, 7 years in fact.

‘Dracula’ was originally titled ‘The Un-dead’ and ‘Count Dracula’ was originally going to be called ‘Count Wampyr.’

‘Dracula’ wasn’t the first story ever written about vampires. The story ‘Camilla’ written by Sheridan Le Fanu was about a lesbian vampire who stalked young women in 1871. There also happened to be a horror series by James Malcolm Rymer called ‘Varney the Vampire,’ that also came before ‘Dracula.’

Walt Whitman was one of his favourite authors.

Bram’s death didn’t attract much attention in 1912 because it was around the same time as the Titanic hit an iceberg. The Titanic was big news at the time.

There are many different opinions on what the final cause of Bram’s death was. Daniel Farson, Bram Stoker’s grandnephew says in his biography the cause of death was Locomotor Ataxy – know in those days as general paralysis of the insane.

Check out some of Bram Stokers other writing:

The Snakes Pass

Seven Golden Buttons

The Watter’s Mou

The Lair of the White Worm

The Lady of the Shroud

The Jewel of the Seven Stars

The Shoulder of Shasta

The Man (A.K.A The Gates of Life)

Lady Athlyne

The Mystery of the Sea

 

Short Stories:

Under the Sunset (Eight fairy tales for children)

Snowbound: The Record of a Theatrical Touring Party

Dracula’s Guests and Other Weird Stories

 

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Bell Night is back from the dead!

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After a long period of no blogging, Bell Night is back up and running. Due to a number of personal reasons the site hasn’t been operating for a while. I hope that you will forgive me for being absent! I am truly sorry.  Hopefully in the coming weeks I will see a lot of old faces and hopefully some new ones. Stay posted and watch this space because there will be a new author review up in a few days! Looking forward to hearing form everyone and writing some new articles!

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