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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Emily Bronte: One of the ‘Bell Brothers’.

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Emily Jane Bronte was born the 30th July 1818 and died the 19th of December 1848. She was 30 years old when she died. Emily is best known for the novel Wuthering Heights, this was the only novel that Emily ever published. Wuthering Heights is about a farm in the Yorkshire moors where a treacherous story of love and revenge takes place over many years. Wuthering Heights was considered very controversial for it’s time, but these days is considered part of classic literature. Here are some interesting facts that you may not have known about Emily:

Emily secretly published Wuthering Heights under the pen name Ellis Bell. This could be for obvious reasons like the fact that male writers were held with higher esteem than female counterparts. Her other two sisters also wrote under the name of Bell. Charlotte wrote as Currer Bell, and Anne wrote as Acton Bell.

Emily Bronte was considered the odd one of the family. She was a bit of a recluse, didn’t like socialising with people and was very strong-willed for a lady of that era.

Emily’s mother died when she was 2. Emily also had a brother called Patrick. Emily and her sisters didn’t stay in school for long due to sickness. Shortly after the children were removed from school by their father, Emily’s other sister Elizabeth died. It seems that their father was very strict towards the children.

Emily taught herself how to play the piano and speak German.

Emily had an affinity with nature and animals, this was also depicted in Wuthering Heights“My sister Emily…loved the moors…they were far more to her than a mere spectacle; they were where she lived in and by as much as the wild birds…She found in the bleak solitude many and dear delights, not the least and best loved was liberty.” – Charlotte Bronte

It has been said that Emily would go into a strange state like trance when writing. Her mind would disappear into different worlds. Emily was considered anorexic, thin and pale. Her trance like states could have been due to her starving herself.

Emily was very attached to a dog she called ‘Keeper.’ It seems this dog was very loyal to her and that ‘Keeper’ was her only best friend, other than her sisters.

Emily was the only one with a middle name in the family.

Not much of Emily’s work or writing was left after she died. It is believed that Charlotte, her older sister burned a lot of her notebooks.

Wuthering Heights is considered a great piece of work, even maybe more so than Jane Eyre written by her sister Charlotte. It is nice to wonder what else Emily Bronte may have written if she had lived past the age of 30. Judging by her novel Wuthering Heights she may have been an even bigger success than her sister Charlotte.

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