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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Neil Gaiman: An author that needs no introduction.

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Neil Richard Gaiman was born in England on the 10th of November 1960. He became intrigued by books as a small child. Some of the authors he liked to read were Edgar Allan Poe, Tolkien and C.S.Lewis. Libraries and his love of books fostered a deep seeded interest in writing. The starting point of Gaiman’s career began in Journalism. He wrote many articles and interviews under pseudonyms for the Sunday Times, the Observer, Knave and Time Out. In 1984 his first book was a biography on the band Duran Duran. Gaiman went on to write in many different genres across a range of mediums. Neil Gaiman is a writer who who keeps his fans constantly entertained. He was not only a writer but also a screen writer, a graphic novelist, producer and director. Some of the screen writing he has done that you may of heard of is: Beowulf, Coraline, Day of the Dead, Death and Me, Princess Mononoke, Stardust, MirrorMask and A Short Film About John Bolton.

Some interesting facts that you may not have known about Neil Gaiman:

His writing always seems to have a lot of metaphors, allusions and alliterations.

His dogs name Cabal, comes from the Hebrew word Kabbalah. The original meaning of this is an occult doctrine or secret.

Neil Gaiman is good friends with Tori Amos.

Currently he is married to Amanda Palmer who is his second wife. He has three children with his first wife Mary McGrath.

Gaiman never went to college.

Gaiman filed and won a lawsuit against Todd McFarlane. In 1991 Gaiman was asked by McFarlane to do some work for him on one issue of the Spawn series. During this time Gaiman introduced three supporting characters to the issue that he had created. McFarlane later claimed that he owned all of Gaimans creations. McFarlane also refused to pay Gaiman for work that was later republished and kept in print.

Neil Gaiman has his own blog. You can check it out here:

http://journal.neilgaiman.com/

Neil Gaiman is definitely an amazing writer and it was my pleasure to add him to the author review list. I hope you gained as much pleasure reading about him as I did writing about him.

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Some things you didn’t know about J. R. R. Tolkien

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Everyone knows that J. R. R. Tolkien wrote the Lord of the Rings books, but what else do you know about Tolkien? John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was his full name. He was born in South Africa on the 3rd of January 1892 and died on the 2nd of September 1973 at the age of 81-82. He began living in England at the age of 3, a decision made by his mother after his father passed away. He was best known for his fantasy novels: The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. Tolkien was one of the authors to bring the genre of fantasy to the forefront in literature.

Here are some interesting facts on Tolkien:

Most of Tolkien’s ancestors were craftsmen. The surname Tolkien comes from the German word Tollkuehn, which means fool-hardy.

As a young teen Tolkien started to explore languages. The first 3 languages that Tolkien worked on were Animalic, (which he didn’t invent himself) Nevbosh (means ‘new nonsense’) and Naffarin (he worked on by himself).

Tolkien’s wife Edith was 3 years older than him. He was not allowed to marry her until he turned 21. On the day he turned 21, he wrote to Edith asking her when he would see her again and declared his love. Edith wrote back telling him that she was already engaged to another man. The reason for this was that she believed Tolkien had forgotten about her. Tolkien got on a train to see her as soon as he heard. She returned the engagement ring to the other man and accepted Tolkien’s proposal.

Tolkien fought in World War I and lost many of his friends there.

Tolkien wrote an essay in 1936 Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics. ‘Beowulf’ wasn’t highly regarded at the time as great literature. After Tolkien’s essay things changed and people started to see ‘Beowulf’ in a different light. If it wasn’t for Tolkien many of us would never of even heard of ‘Beowulf.’

Tolkien was friends with C.S. Lewis.

When Tolkien’s son Michael entered the army and had to fill in paper work, he put down that his father’s profession was a ‘Wizard.’

Tolkien enjoyed forming clubs while he was at university. One was a Viking club and the other was a club called ‘the inklings.’ ( a literary discussion group)

Tolkien always saw himself as a scholar first and a writer second. He was skeptical of his fans, believing that they were incapable of really appreciating his work.

Most people think of The Lord of the Rings books as a trilogy, because that is how they were published, but in fact it is meant to be one novel.

Tolkien didn’t see ‘Frodo’ as being the main hero of The Lord of the Rings. He always claimed that ‘Sam’ was the real hero of the story. If most people knew this before they read the books, it would definitely change how it is seen.

The Lord of the Rings took Tolkien 14 years to write. It is also believed that when he needed a copy of the manuscript, he didn’t have the resources to make one, so he retyped the whole thing again himself.

Some of Tolkien’s publications that you should consider reading are: Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics.

The Hobbit

The Lord of the Rings

The Silmarillion

Unfinished Tales and The History of Middle-Earth

The Children of Hurin

The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun

Children’s stories:

The Father Christmas Letters

Mr Bliss

Roverandom

Tree and Leaf

The Adventures of Tom Bombadil

On Fairy-Stories (an essay)

Smith of Wootton Major

Farmer Giles of Ham

J. R. R. Tolkien was an author with the ability to create worlds that were as believable as our reality.

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