Ursula was born in 1929 in California. Her father was an anthropologist and her mother was a writer. Having earned a Master’s degree in French, she began doctoral studies, but abandoned these after her 1953 marriage to historian Charles Le Guin, to begin writing full-time.
First published in 1959, Le Guin achieved major critical and commercial success with A Wizard of Earthsea (1968) and The Left Hand of Darkness (1969).
She is best known for her works in speculative fiction. Although she frequently wrote for children, her skilful writing and acute perceptions attracted a large adult readership. Frequently described as author of science fiction, she said she would prefer to be known as an “American novelist”.
Ursula’s career as a professional writer spanned nearly sixty years. During this period, she wrote more than twenty novels, more than a hundred short stories, more than a dozen volumes of poetry, five translations, and thirteen children’s books. Her writing encompassed speculative fiction, realistic fiction, non-fiction, screenplays, librettos, essays, poetry, speeches, translations, literary critiques, chapbooks, and children’s fiction.
“I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality.”
She died in Oregon in January 2018, aged 88.