Born on a farm in Albany, New York, during the Great Depression, she began writing in 1949. She was married to Robert Alden Bradley from October 26, 1949 until their divorce on May 19, 1964. They had a son, David Robert Bradley (1950–2008). During the 1950s she was introduced to the cultural and campaigning lesbian group the Daughters of Bilitis.
After her divorce Bradley married numismatist Walter H. Breen on June 3, 1964. They had a daughter, Moira Greyland, who became a professional harpist and singer, and a son, Patrick.
In 1965, Bradley graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. Afterward, she moved to Berkeley, California, to pursue graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley between 1965 and 1967. In 1966, she helped found and named the Society for Creative Anachronism and was involved in developing several local groups, including in New York after her move to Staten Island.
Bradley and Breen separated in 1979 but remained married, and continued a business relationship and lived on the same street for over a decade. They officially divorced on May 9, 1990, the year Breen was arrested on child molestation charges.
Marion Zimmer Bradley, 1994, by Robert Giard (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/dl_crosscollex/brbldl_getrec.asp?fld=img&id=1123912)
American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/giard.html)Bradley was baptized at the age of seventeen, on July 5, 1947 at Christ Church Cathedral (Episcopal) in Hartford, CT. In the 1980s, Bradley was a neopagan but by the 1990s she had returned to the Episcopalian telling an interviewer: "I just go regularly to the Episcopalian church... That pagan thing... I feel that I've gotten past it. I would like people to explore the possibilities."
After suffering declining health for years, Bradley died at Alta Bates Medical Center in Berkeley on September 25, 1999, four days after suffering a debilitating heart attack. Her ashes were scattered at Glastonbury Tor, in Somerset, England, two months later.
Bradley's first publication was a short story, "Women Only", which appeared in the second (and final) issue of Vortex Science Fiction in 1953. Her first published novel-length work was Falcons of Narabedla, first published in the May 1957 issue of Other Worlds. When she was a child, Bradley stated that she enjoyed reading adventure fantasy authors such as Henry Kuttner, Edmond Hamilton, C.L. Moore and Leigh Brackett, especially when they wrote about "the glint of strange suns on worlds that never were and never would be." Her first novel and much of her subsequent work show their influence strongly.
Early in her career, writing as Morgan Ives, Miriam Gardner, John Dexter, and Lee Chapman, Marion Zimmer Bradley produced several works outside the speculative fiction genre, including some gay and lesbian pulp fiction novels. For example, I Am a Lesbian was published in 1962. Though relatively tame by today's standards, they were considered pornographic when published, and for a long time she refused to disclose the titles she wrote under these pseudonyms.
Her 1958 novel The Planet Savers introduced the planet of Darkover, which became the setting of a popular series by Bradley and other authors. The Darkover milieu may be considered as either fantasy with science fiction overtones or as science fiction with fantasy overtones, as Darkover is a lost earth colony where psi powers developed to an unusual degree. Bradley wrote many Darkover novels by herself, but in her later years collaborated with other authors for publication; her literary collaborators have continued the series since her death.
Bradley took an active role in science-fiction and fantasy fandom, promoting interaction with professional authors and publishers and making several important contributions to the subculture. In 1966, Bradley became a cofounder of the Society for Creative Anachronism, and is credited with coining the name of that group. In the 1970s, as part of the contemporary wave of enthusiasm for J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional world of Middle-earth, she wrote two short fanfic stories about Arwen and published them in chapbook format; one of them, "The Jewel of Arwen", also appeared in her professional anthology The Best of Marion Zimmer Bradley (1985), although it was dropped from later reprints.
For many years, Bradley actively encouraged Darkover fan fiction and reprinted some of it in commercial Darkover anthologies, continuing to encourage submissions from unpublished authors, but this ended after a dispute with a fan over an unpublished Darkover novel of Bradley's that had similarities to some of the fan's stories. As a result, the novel remained unpublished, and Bradley demanded the cessation of all Darkover fan fiction.
Bradley was also the editor of the long-running Sword and Sorceress anthology series, which encouraged submissions of fantasy stories featuring original and non-traditional heroines from young and upcoming authors. Although she particularly encouraged young female authors, she was not averse to including males in her anthologies. Mercedes Lackey was just one of many authors who first appeared in the anthologies. She also maintained a large family of writers at her home in Berkeley. Ms Bradley was editing the final Sword and Sorceress manuscript up until the week of her death.
Probably her most famous single novel is The Mists of Avalon. A retelling of the Camelot legend from the point of view of Morgaine and Gwenhwyfar, it grew into a series of books; like the Darkover series, the later novels are written with or by other authors and have continued to appear after Bradley's death.
In 2000, she was posthumously awarded the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement.
The Catch Trap is the emotionally devastating story of a young gay boy adopted into a family of trapeze artists who falls in love with the angst-ridden and repressed family star. An unbelievably accurate depiction of the pain of young gay love and the battle some of us go through to come out yet, this is far from a standard coming out story; the novel borders on the epic. --Hal Bodner
I liked The Mists of Avalon for many reasons, most notably because it dealt with the legend of King Arthur. Told from the point of view of the women in Arthur's life I felt it gave an alternative view. A true fantasy that, at least in my mind, was rooted in history. It led me to buy actual history books that dealt with Arthurian Legend. Also, even though the entire book is grand, and worth re-reading, there is a scene that always stuck in my head, and again I believe it was just foreshadowing of what I truly enjoyed. Midway through the book, at Beltane, Arthur takes both Gwenhwyfar and Lancelet to his bed. I remember reading between the lines at that scene, and being floored at the images. I think this book just further cemented my love for the Cornish, the Welsh, and all things mystical. --Rowena SudburyFurther Readings:
The Catch Trap by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Mass Market Paperback
Publisher: Ballantine Books (July 12, 1984)
Amazon: The Catch Trap
A magnificent, colorful novel of the circus world of the 1940s and 1950s, rich in detail, bursting with power and emotion.
Mario Santelli, a member of the famous flying Santelli family, is a great trapeze artist. Tommy Zane is his protege.
As naturally and gracefully as they soar through the air, the two flyers find themselves falling in love. Mario and Tommy share sweet stolen moments of passion, but the real intensity of their relationship comes from their total devotion to one another and to their art.
As public figures in a conservative era, they cannot reveal their love. But they will never renounce it.
A tremendously moving tale, a rich family saga, a wise and compassionate portrait of a special love in a special world.
Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context by Vern L Bullough
Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (November 20, 2002)
Amazon: Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context
Explore the early history of the gay rights movement!
In the words of editor Vern L. Bullough: “Although there was no single leader in the gay and lesbian community who achieved the fame and reputation of Martin Luther King, there were a large number of activists who put their careers and reputations on the line. It was a motley crew of radicals and reformers, drawn together by the cause in spite of personality and philosophical differences. Their stories are told in the following pages.”
Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context illuminates the lives of the courageous individuals involved in the early struggle for gay and lesbian civil rights in the United States. Authored by those who knew them (often activists themselves), the concise biographies in this volume examine the lives of pre-1969 barrier breakers like Harry Hay, Henry Gerber, Alfred Kinsey, Del Martin, Phyllis Lyon, Jim Kepner, Jack Nichols, Christine Jorgensen, Jose Sarria, Barbara Grier, Frank Kameny, and 40 more.
More Particular Voices at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Particular Voices
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