Ursula K. Le Guin

1929 –

Ursula K. Le Guin was born on October 21, 1929, in Berkeley, California. Her parents, Alfred L. Kroeber and Theodora Quinn Kroeber, were both anthropologists. Le Guin was the youngest of four children and the only daughter.

She received a BA from Radcliffe College in 1951 and an MA in Romance languages from Columbia University in 1952. While in France on a Fulbright fellowship, she met and married Charles Le Guin, another Fulbright scholar. Soon after, the couple moved to Portland, Oregon.

Over the next few years, Le Guin wrote poetry, short stories, and five novels, but it wasn’t until 1961 that she published her first short story. In 1975, she published her first poetry collection, Wild Angels (Capra Press). Le Guin went on to publish several additional books of poetry, including So Far So Good: Poems 2014–2018 (Copper Canyon Press, 2018); Later in the Day: Poems, 2010–2014 (PM Press, 2016); Finding My Elegy: New and Selected Poems (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012); and Hard Words (Harper & Row, 1981). 

Le Guin is best known for her work in expanding genre and blurring the borders between science and literary fiction. She is the author of more than twenty novels, including The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia (Harper & Row, 1974) and The Left Hand of Darkness (Walker, 1969), both of which won Hugo and Nebula Awards. She also published several collections of short stories and of essays.

In 2000, the Library of Congress honored Le Guin with the title of “Living Legend,” and in 2003 she was named a Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. She received the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 2014. Le Guin died on January 22, 2018.