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Influential Fantasy Writer, Author Ursula Le Guin, Passes Away at 88

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Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-2018)

Many literary fans have been heartbroken over the recent news of author Ursula K. Le Guin's passing. Known for her influential work, the science-fiction and fantasy author died yesterday at the age of 88 years old. Throughout the years, Le Guin has been known for her wide variety of work, ranging from full-length books to blogs, and everything in between.

Born Ursula Kroeber on October 21, 1929, Le Guin grew up in Berkeley, California. As a young child, she learned many things about the world and other cultures from her parents, who worked as anthropologists. Inspired by other fantasy classics like "A Dreamer's Tales" by Lord Dunsany and science fiction books, Le Guin was quoted as saying that she eventually outgrew her curiosity with science fiction, saying that, "[The stories] seemed to be all about hardware and soldiers: White men go forth and conquer the universe."

Early Inspiration

In 1952, Le Guin later graduated with her master's degree in Literature from the Renaissance and Middle Ages from Columbia University. Today, Le Guin is survived by her husband and their three children. In the sixties, Le Guin began writing several science fiction and fantasy stories, some of which would eventually become novels. Strongly inspired by J. R. R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, Le Guin also was influenced by Taoism and feminism.

Le Guin's Earthsea Series

In 1968, Ursula Le Guin published the classic fantasy novel, A Wizard of Earthsea. The book helped pave the way for other future magical-themed series, and is widely cherished by many fans of fantasy and young adult novels. The novel takes place in the mythical world called Earthsea, which encompasses a collection of islands. When Ged crosses paths with a mage called Ogion, he begins to learn more about his powers as a wizard.

Often regarded as a coming-of-age tale, the story follows a wizard named Ged Sparrowhawk, and how his choices affect others throughout the world. Le Guin also penned another intriguing novel called The Tombs of Atuan. The story highlights a priestess called Tenar, and is remembered for Le Guin's themes of gender differences in a society. Several years later, The Farthest Shore was published, continuing on with Ged's journey.

Completing the Series

After two decades, Le Guin picked back up with the Earthsea series, this time with her novel, Tehanu. The story is known for being different in tone from the previous books. Le Guin also penned several other Earthsea books, including a collection of short stories in Tales From Earthsea and the last book of the series, The Other Wind.

Some other noteworthy texts from Ursula Le Guin include her novels, The Left Hand of Darkness, The Lathe of Heaven and The Dispossessed. The Left Hand of Darkness was awarded with both a Hugo award and a Nebula award, and employed a strongly critical approach towards gender norms.

Her Legacy

Other popular writers, such as Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, and more, have all shown gratitude for Ursula Le Guin's inspirational work. Author of The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood praised Ursula Le Guin as, “‘One of the literary greats of the 20th century”, and recently penned a detailed thank you letter to her inspiration for The Guardian. In 2015, Ursula Le Guin was interviewed by BBC Radio 4 for a documentary about her lifetime achievements. In the film, she explains some of the obstacles she faced being a woman in the late nineteen twenties and thirties. Le Guin's work inspired countless writers in her wake, with many admiring her for her fearlessness and courage.

Written by Jade Nicolette

Twitter: @nicolette_style


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