Childhood & Early Life
Lafayette Ronald Hubbard was born on March 13, 1911, in Nebraska. His mother, Ledora May, was a teacher, and his father, Harry Ross Hubbard, was a naval officer with the ‘United States Navy.’ He was the only child of his parents.
As a child, L Ron Hubbard was active in the ‘Boy Scouts.’ He earned the rank of ‘Eagle Scout’ before turning 13. He attended the ‘Queen Anne High School’ in Seattle and then enrolled at the ‘Helena High School.’ While in school, Hubbard was inclined toward writing but failed to score good grades. According to his parents’ wishes, Hubbard appeared for the ‘Naval Academy’ entrance examination. However, he failed to qualify.
In 1930, Hubbard graduated from the ‘Woodward School for Boys.’ He then attended the ‘George Washington University’ and studied civil engineering for two years. During his university days, Hubbard organized a sailing expedition to the Caribbean. The aim of the mission was to discover specimens and exhibits for museums. The expedition was hit by bad weather and financial crisis. It was a complete failure.
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During the 1930s, L Ron Hubbard started his career as a writer. He worked for the ‘George Washington University’ student newspaper, ‘The University Hatchet.’ He wrote for pulp-fiction magazines, using various pseudonyms. Hubbard’s stories covered genres such as mystery, science-fiction, romance, and horror.
In 1937, Hubbard published his first full-length novel, ‘Buckskin Brigades.’ He wrote several stories and novelettes for science-fiction magazines such as the ‘Unknown’ and the ‘Astounding Science Fiction.’ His stories ‘Fear,’ ‘Final Blackout,’ and ‘Typewriter in the Sky’ were appreciated by the public. In 1938, he wrote the script for the movie series ‘The Secret of Treasure Island.’
In 1938, Hubbard authored a manuscript, ‘Excalibur,’ in which he intended to outline the basic principles of human existence. According to Hubbard, he was inspired to write the book during a surgery, during which he had “died” for eight minutes. Records showed that Hubbard was referring to a dental extraction done using a chemical, which had hallucinogenic effects. He believed that this book, if published, would revolutionize theories of human life. Hubbard tried to publish his book, but there were no takers. Later, the unpublished manuscript became a part of Scientology texts.
In 1940, Hubbard joined ‘The Explorers Club’ and led an expedition to Alaska. The expedition was a failure. After returning, Hubbard applied to join the ‘United States Navy.’ In 1941, he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the ‘US Naval Reserve.’ He commanded two anti-submarine vessels for brief periods. Hubbard was found to be lacking the judgement and co-operation needed for a commander. Besides, he suffered from health issues such as duodenal ulcer and reduced vision. In 1946, Hubbard was transferred to inactive duty, and in 1950, he resigned.
In 1945, Hubbard moved in with engineer and occultist Jack Parsons. Hubbard was influenced by the magical practices followed by Parsons. They collaborated on developing the ‘Babalon Working,’ a sex magic ritual. Hubbard befriended Parson’s girlfriend, Sara, and they eventually got married. Hubbard and Sara formed a partnership, in which Parsons invested his entire savings. Due to an alleged fraud by Hubbard, the friendship fell apart. The couple soon moved out from Parsons’s mansion.
In 1948, Hubbard moved to Savannah, Georgia. He volunteered to help patients in mental hospitals, with his unique counseling techniques. This led to the development of a new branch of psychology, which he called Dianetics. Dianetics stated that the human brain was capable of recording every event in the life of an individual and that this could later trigger mental or physical problems. It also stated that through the process of “auditing,” traces of memory in the brain could be removed. Thus, a person, after “auditing,” would be completely cured of all illnesses. Dianetics believed that the mind could completely rule the body.
Dianetics was a success initially. Hubbard trained many “auditors” who could cure sick people. Gradually, people started doubting the claims of a complete cure. Many “auditors” became self-professed leaders, which troubled Hubbard. He lost the rights to Dianetics in a legal suit. After the decline of Dianetics, Hubbard concentrated on developing a new line of research, which he called Scientology.
Scientology, which currently has a number of followers across the globe, is based on the doctrine that the true self of a man is immortal and omnipotent. The aim of Scientology is to restore the original powers of the self, through systematic practices. While Dianetics defied God, Scientology embraces spirituality. Hubbard invented an “E- meter,” which was said to reveal the innermost thoughts of an individual. Scientologists stated that man could attain godly powers.
The organizational hierarchy of Scientology was strictly controlled by Hubbard. There were branches and franchises, but they had to pay a portion of their income to the head organization. Soon, Scientology became widely accepted across the globe. The franchises were called ‘Churches of Scientology,’ and the “auditors” dressed like clergymen. During the 1950s, Scientology witnessed a steady increase in the number of followers.
During the 1970s, Hubbard’s organization ran into trouble with government agencies across the world. The tax exemption granted to the ‘Church of Scientology’ was withdrawn. Medicines marketed by them were found to be ineffective. Several countries turned hostile toward Hubbard and his teachings. Hubbard tried to find a safe haven. He created a fleet of ships, named the ‘Sea Org,’ and started sailing in search of a safe country where Scientology could prosper. However, he was rejected everywhere. The French government charged him with fraud and customs violations. He was convicted “in absentia” and sentenced to four years in prison.
Personal Life & Legacy
L Ron Hubbard spent the last few years of his life in hiding. He lived all alone in a luxury motorhome in California, for the last two years before death. The outside world speculated about whether Hubbard was dead or alive. In January 1986, he suffered a stroke. He died a week later. After his death, his body was cremated and the ashes were scattered in the sea.
Hubbard had married thrice. He married Margaret “Polly” Grubb in 1933. The couple had a son, Lafayette Ronald Hubbard Jr., nicknamed “Nibs,” and a daughter, Katherine May. When Hubbard moved to California, Polly refused to join him. She stayed in Washington with their kids.
In 1946, Hubbard married Sara “Betty” Northrup, who was Jack Parsons’s girlfriend. This was done before his divorce from his first wife, Polly. In 1947, Polly filed for divorce and was granted the custody of her children. Hubbard and Sara had a daughter, Alexis Valerie.
In 1950, Sara began dating Dianetics “auditor,” Miles Hollister. Hubbard tried to brand them as communist infiltrators. He tortured Sara, and tried to declare her insane. In 1951, Sara filed for divorce, and it was soon granted.
After his second divorce, Hubbard married Mary Sue Whipp, a staff member of the ‘Hubbard College.’ They had four children: Arthur Ronald, Geoffrey Quentin, Diana Meredith, and Mary Suzette. Mary Sue headed the ‘Guardian’s Office,’ which was created by Hubbard to manage legal threats and public relations. When Hubbard left abruptly, Sue was forced to resign from her position.
After Hubbard’s death, a trust fund was created to support his wife and children. The copyrights of Hubbard’s literary works, and much of his estate, were willed to the ‘Church of Scientology.’ Hubbard holds the ‘Guinness World Record’ for the most-published and the most-translated author.