Octavia Butler Biography

(American Author Known for Her Science Fiction Novels)

Birthday: June 22, 1947 (Cancer)

Born In: Pasadena, California, United States

One of the first African-American woman writers to receive critical-acclaim as a major writer in the genre of science-fiction, Octavia Butler is popularly called the ‘Grand Dame Of Science Fiction’. She is also the first science-fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Fellowship and is also the recipient of the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards. She was born into a humble family and lost her father while still an infant. Her mother worked as a maid to support the family financially. As a child, she was rather shy but developed a love for reading and writing science fiction. Most of her books contain a blend of both science fiction and elements of African-American spirituality. Her first published novel, ‘Patternmaster’ resulted in a volume of novels called, ‘Patternist series’. Some of her other acclaimed books include, 'Parable of the Sower', 'Kindred', 'Parable of the Talents', the ‘Lilith's Brood' science fiction trilogy and the award winning short story collection, 'Bloodchild and Other Stories'. She attended the Screenwriter's Guild Open Door Program and the Clarion Science Fiction Writers' Workshop.

Quick Facts

Nick Name: Junie, Genius Grant

Also Known As: Octavia Estelle Butler

Died At Age: 58


father: Laurice Butler

mother: Octavia M. Butler

Born Country: United States

Feminists Novelists

Height: 6'0" (183 cm), 6'0" Females

Died on: February 24, 2006

place of death: Lake Forest Park, Washington, United States

Cause of Death: Stroke

U.S. State: California

Diseases & Disabilities: Dyslexia

City: Pasadena, California

More Facts

education: California State University, Los Angeles

awards: MacArthur Fellowship
Nebula Award for Best Novel
Hugo Award for Best Short Story

Hugo Award for Best Novelette
Nebula Award for Best Novelette

Childhood & Early Life
Octavia Estelle Butler was born on June 22, 1947 in Pasadena, California, U.S. She lost her father Laurice, when she was an infant and was raised by her mother, Octavia M. Butler and grandmother.
Her mother worked as a maid to support the family. She was raised in a racially mixed neighbourhood, which was not very easy for her to deal as she was a rather shy child.
She loved to read as a child and developed a liking for science fiction classics. From the age of ten she began writing stories.
In 1968, she graduated from the Pasadena City College with an associate's degree. She initially enrolled at the California State University, Los Angeles, but left to take writing classes through the University of California, Los Angeles extension.
In 1969, she attended The Open Door Workshop organised by the ‘Screenwriters’ Guild of America’, West. Here she met the acclaimed science fiction writer, Harlan Ellison.
In 1970, she attended the Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop, which was recommended to her by Harlan Ellison. Here she met another prominent writer, Samuel R. Delany.
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In 1971, she earned her first publication with the story, ‘Crossover', which was printed in the Clarion Workshop anthology. While writing stories, she also did many jobs to make ends meet.
In 1976, she published her first science fiction novel, ‘Patternmaster', which eventually became the first book of her 'Patternist series'. The book revolves around networked telepaths.
In 1977 and the following year, she came out with the 'Patternist series' of novels, titled ‘Mind of My Mind' and 'Survivor'.The science fiction series was well received.
In 1979, her novel titled, ‘Kindred' was published. The plot revolved around the life of an African-American woman named, ‘Edana Dana Franklin', who resides in Altadena, California.
In 1980, she came out with her fourth novel in the 'Patternist series' titled, ‘Wild Seed’. The novel received good reviews and was praised by New York Times reviewer Gerald Jonas.
In 1984, she came out with the 'Patternist series' novel titled, ‘Clay's Ark’. In the novel, the character, ‘Asa Elias Doyle’ comes to know of a dangerous alien form that could prove fatal to mankind.
From 1987, she published her ‘Lilith's Brood' science fiction trilogy. The collection included three volume 'Dawn', 'Adulthood Rites' and 'Imago', respectively, in the order of publication.
In 1993, she came out with the book titled, ‘Parable of the Sower’, which was the first book of the two-book volume of the ‘Parable Series'. The book was nominated for the Nebula Award for ‘Best Novel’.
In 1995, her collection of science fiction and horror short stories titled ‘Bloodchild and Other Stories’ was published. Each of the stories featured an afterword by the author.
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In 1998, her second volume of the ‘Parable Series', ‘Parable of the Talents' was published. Even though she planned to write a third book, she could not finish it due to writers’ block.
In 2005, her science-fiction-vampire novel titled, ‘Fledgling’ was published by the Seven Stories Press. The plot revolves around an eleven year old girl, who is actually a vampire.
Major Works
Her award winning short story collection. ‘Bloodchild and Other Stories’ was declared as a New York Times ‘Notable Book’. With this book she established herself as one of the strongest voices in contemporary literature.
Awards & Achievements
In 1984, she received the Hugo Award for Best Short Story for ‘Speech Sounds'.
In 1984, she received the Nebula Award for Best Novelette for 'Bloodchild'.
In 1985, she was awarded the Science Fiction Chronicle Award for 'Best Novelette' for 'Bloodchild'.
In 1985, she was awarded the Locus Award for ‘Best Novelette’ for 'Bloodchild'.
In 1985, she was awarded the Hugo Award for Best Novelette for 'Bloodchild'.
In 1995, she was awarded the MacArthur Foundation 'Genius' Grant.
In 1999, she received the Nebula Award for 'Best Novel' for 'Parable of the Talents'.
In 2000, the PEN American Center conferred her lifetime achievement award in writing.
Personal Life & Legacy
She suffered from dyslexia.
She died on February 24, 2006 at the age of 58 in Lake Forest Park, Washington, outside her house. The cause of her death is unknown.
In her honour and memory 'The Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship' was founded in 2006 by the Carl Brandon Society. This facilitates African-American writers to attend the Clarion Writers' Workshop, which she first attended. In 2011, it was put on hold.
The author of the famous ‘Patternist series’, she was the first African-American woman to gain popularity and critical acclaim as a major science-fiction writer.

See the events in life of Octavia Butler in Chronological Order

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