Ursula Kroeber was born on October 21, 1929 in Berkeley, California, where she grew up. Her parents were the anthropologist Alfred Kroeber and Theodora Kracaw Kroeber, author of Ishi in Two Worlds. She went to Radcliffe College and did graduate work at Columbia University.
Ursula K. Le Guin was prolific in both poetry and prose, mainly in the genres of realistic fiction, science fiction and fantasy. She wrote 22 novels as well as dozens of volumes of short stories, poems, young children’s books, books for young adults, screenplays, essays, and works of translation.
Ursula K. Le Guin died on January 22, 2018 at her home in Portland, Oregon. She is survived by her husband, historian Charles A. Le Guin, her three children, and her four grandchildren.
Most of Le Guin’s major titles have remained continuously in print, some for over 40 years. For an in-depth bibliography visit www.ursulakleguin.com.
Le Guin first began publishing in the mid-1960s, and soon became known for her cultural sophistication and artistry. Her work has often depicted futuristic or imaginary alternative worlds in politics, the natural environment, gender, religion, sexuality, and ethnography. Le Guin, by elevating science fiction from mind candy to serious speculation, gave permission to younger mainstream writers like Michael Chabon, Zadie Smith, and David Mitchell to explore fantastic elements in their work.
In 2014 Le Guin was awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In 2002 she won a PEN/Malamud Award for “excellence in a body of short fiction.”
In science fiction, Le Guin won the top awards many times over. For novels alone, she won five Locus, four Nebula, two Hugo, and one World Fantasy Award. (The Dispossessed won the Locus, Nebula, and Hugo.) Her third Earthseanovel, The Farthest Shore, won the 1973 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Unlocking the Air and Other Stories was one of three finalists for the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
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