Marion Zimmer Bradley

Marion Zimmer Bradley

Marion Zimmer Bradley
Marion Zimmer Bradley (June 3, 1930–September 25, 1999) was born Marion Eleanor Zimmer on a farm near Albany, New York. Her parents Evelyn P. (Conklin) Zimmer and Leslie R. Zimmer, a truck driver and carpenter, later had two sons.

As a child, Bradley enjoyed reading science fiction and fantasy authors Henry Kuttner, Edmond Hamilton, C. L. Moore, and Leigh Brackett (the latter two of whom are also featured in this anthology). At seventeen, Bradley began writing for, illustrating, and publishing the fanzine Astra’s Tower; contributors included her younger brother Leslie and her future husband Robert Alden Bradley, more than thirty years her senior, whom she married in 1949 after an epistolary courtship. Leaving upstate New York for Abilene, Texas, she had a son, David, in 1950; she also started publishing professionally, winning an Amazing Stories contest for “Outpost” in December 1949 and selling “Women Only” to Vortex Science Fiction in 1953. The first novels in her multivolume Darkover series appeared in magazine form in the late 1950s, to be published separately early in the next decade: Falcons of Narabedla (1964) and The Planet Savers (1962). Her first separately published novel, Lesbian Love (1960), was one of eight lesbian pulps she is known to have written between 1960 and 1966 under pseudonyms including Marlene Longman, Lee Chapman, Miriam Gardner, Morgan Ives, and John Dexter. She collected her early stories in The Dark Intruder & Other Stories (1964).

Bradley graduated from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene in 1964 and headed to Berkeley, California, to continue her education in psychology. She divorced her first husband and married numismatist Walter H. Breen in Marin, California, the same year; they had two children, Patrick in 1964 and Moira in 1966. Along with future literary collaborator Diana L. Paxson, she is credited with helping to found the Society for Creative Anachronism on May Day, 1966. In 1981, along with Paxson and others, she incorporated the Center for Non-Traditional Religion in Berkeley. Bradley was well known for her active interest in science fiction and fantasy fandom, coediting a number of fanzines, publishing her own Lord of the Rings fan fiction, and encouraging fans to write stories in her own Darkover universe (a practice she ended when she found herself in a skirmish with a fan over intellectual property issues).

Moving to Staten Island, New York, in 1968, Bradley edited the influential anthology series Sword and Sorceress (1984–99) and began the magazine Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy (1988–99), serving as editor and publisher. In 1984, she received the Locus Award for Best Novel for her bestselling Arthurian fantasy, The Mists of Avalon (1983), and in 2000 Bradley won a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement. Dying of a heart attack in Berkeley at sixty-six, she was credited as the author of over six dozen novels, and new works within series she began continue to be published.

For many years Bradley was best remembered for The Mists of Avalon. However, posthumous allegations of child abuse have muddied her reputation. Bradley had divorced Walter H. Breen in 1990 following his arrest on child sex abuse charges for which he was later imprisoned; they had separated in 1979 but remained business partners and friends. Having helped to edit Breen’s pseudonymously published treatise Greek Love in 1964, Bradley was certainly aware of her husband’s theoretical advocacy of pedophilia. In 1963–64, the science fiction community debated the exclusion of Breen on related grounds from Pacificon II, in what became known as “Breendoggle.” In 2014, Bradley’s daughter Moira Greyland accused her of complicity and participation in her own abuse along with that of her younger brother and other children.

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Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, June 1963

John Jay Wells (Juanita Coulson) and Marion Zimmer Bradley
“Another Rib”