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Marion Zimmer Bradley
Marion Zimmer Bradley (1930–1999) was born in Albany, New York, she grew up in an abusive family on a run-down farm in upstate New York, in the midst of the Great Depression. Early in life she had hopes of becoming an opera singer, but was thwarted by lack of money and health problems. Her writing career was sparked by an amateur fiction contest in 1949: ‘Fantastic/Amazing Stories’, and by 1952 she had sold her first professional short story to the magazine ‘Vortex Science Fiction’.
Marion Zimmer Bradley's career as a novelist was launched in 1961 with her first novel ‘The Door Through Space’. In 1962 she published the first in what would prove to be the long and well-loved ‘Darkover’ series, a science fiction-fantasy chronology consisting of several novels and short stories set in the fictional world of ‘Darkover’. The word 'Darkover' is a registered trademark owned by the Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust.
Bradley broke major ground with her 1983 novel 'The Mists of Avalon', forever changing the way readers experience the legend of King Arthur. Unlike Sir Thomas Malory, Mark Twain, T.H. White and other male authors, Bradley weaves an epic tale from the point of view of the women in the story.
Meanwhile Bradley's Darkover novels attained such popularity that other authors began generating their own Darkover stories, which Bradley allowed to be collected together in anthologies and published for public consumption. A certain amount of Darkover's popularity surely derives from its inclusion of both gay and lesbian relationships. The women characters in Darkover provided inspiring heroines for young female (and male) readers at a time when the women's movement had yet to find mass acceptance.
Meanwhile Bradley's own lesbian leanings spurred her to write several gay and lesbian-themed novels in the 60s under such pseudonyms as Morgan Ives, Miriam Gardner, John Dexter and Lee Chapman. Although the works were relatively tame by current standards, they were viewed as pornographic during the more pronouncedly homophobic era of their publication. In the 1950s the American writer and publisher Barbara Grier, introduced Bradley to the lesbian social and advocacy group ‘The Daughters of Bilitis’, and Bradley contributed to their national newsletter publication ‘The Ladder’. She also contributed to its gay community counterpart ‘The Mattachine Review’ publication.
Bradley is considered by some to be the mother of feminist science fiction and to have been a significant force for the redress of what had long been an underrepresentation of female voices and perspectives in science fiction.
Bradley was married and divorced twice - once to Walter Breen, a gay man and later a convicted child molester. It is noted by some that Bradley's own writing occasionally has distinctively pedophilic themes. She had three biological children, one with first husband Robert Bradley, and two with Breen, they also had several foster children. In 1980 she and Breen were ordained in to Eastern Orthodox priesthood by gay bishop Mikhail Itkin and for many years thereafter she provided pastoral counselling at the Gay Pacific Center.
See also Barbara Grier.
‘Marion Zimmer Bradley’, Wikipedia, retrieved 9 October 2014
‘Marion Zimmer Bradley’, NNDB, retrieved 9 October 2014
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