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An Idea Caught Fire in Powell Library


By Cynthia Lee

Published Jun 6, 2012 12:19 PM

Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451, his futuristic masterpiece about book burning, on a rented typewriter in a basement study room.


Photo courtesy of: LA Times.

Ray Bradbury, the literary giant who penned his futuristic masterpiece, Fahrenheit 451, in the basement of UCLA's Powell Library in 1950, died June 5 in Los Angeles at the age of 91.

Bradbury's 90th birthday was celebrated by the campus in August 2010 with an online tribute that included hundreds of birthday greetings from his many fans.

The celebrated storyteller, who also gave the world such classics as The Martian Chronicles and Something Wicked This Way Comes, decided to write Fahrenheit 451 at Powell after discovering that typewriters could be rented for a half hour for just 10 cents. Bradbury sat down with a bag of dimes and tapped out his classic novel in just nine days, for the grand expenditure of $9.80.

Writing Fahrenheit 451

Learn how Ray Bradbury wrote his iconic novel.

Video by UCLA

"It was a passionate and exciting time for me," the author reminisced in an essay he wrote for UCLA Magazine in 2002. "Imagine what it was like to be writing a book about book burning and doing it in a library where the passions of all those authors, living and dead, surrounded me."

UCLA Library Special Collections houses a rich treasure trove of Bradburyana, including photographs, book covers and publicity stills. UCLA's tribute website contains links to a timeline tracking the life of "Fahrenheit 451" as it morphed from a book to a 1966 film to a theater production. In a video, the author sent a message to his many fans.



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