Ursula K. Le Guin

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Ursula K. Le Guin at an informal bookstore Q&A session, July 2004

Ursula Kroeber Le Guin (born October 21, 1929), is an American author. Although she has written novels, poetry, children's books, and essays, she is best known for her science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories. Le Guin has lived in Portland, Oregon since 1958. The daughter of the anthropologist Alfred L. Kroeber and the writer Theodora Kroeber, she is noted for her exemplary style and for her exploration of Taoist, anarchist, feminist, psychological and sociological themes.

First published in the 1960s, she is now regarded as one of the best modern science fiction authors. She has received several Hugo and Nebula awards, and was awarded the Gandalf Grand Master award in 1979 and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master Award in 2003.



Le Guin became interested in literature when she was very young. At the age of eleven she submitted her first story to the magazine Astounding Science Fiction (it was rejected). She attended Harvard University's Radcliffe College and Columbia University, graduating with an M.A. She later studied in France, where she met her husband, Charles Le Guin. Her earliest writings (little was published at the time, but some was published in adapted form much later in Orsinian Tales and Malafrena), were non-fantastic stories of imaginary countries. Searching for a publishable way to express her interests, she returned to her early interest in science fiction and began to be published regularly in the early 1960s. She became famous after the publication of her 1969 novel The Left Hand of Darkness, which won the Hugo and Nebula awards.

Much of Le Guin's science fiction is distinctive in its strong emphasis on the social sciences, including sociology and anthropology. Her writing often makes use of unusual alien cultures to convey a message about our own culture; one example is the exploration of sexual identity through the hermaphroditic race in The Left Hand of Darkness.


Le Guin is known for her ability to create believable worlds populated by strongly sympathetic characters (regardless of whether they are technically 'human'). Her fantasy works (such as the Earthsea series) are much more concerned with the human condition than works by authors such as J. R. R. Tolkien. However, they share with Tolkien – and, by definition, with most epic high fantasy – the traditional notion that only the "True King" can solve the world's most important problems. Le Guin has also written fiction set much closer to home; many of her short stories are set in our world in the present or the near future.


Earthsea (fantasy)

The Earthsea novels

The Earthsea short stories

Ekumen (science fiction)

Novels of the Ekumen

Short stories from the Ekumen

Miscellaneous novels and story cycles

Short story collections

Books for children and young adults

The Catwings Collection

  • Catwings, 1988
  • Catwings Return, 1989
  • Wonderful Alexander and the Catwings, 1994
  • Jane on Her Own, 1999





  • Wild Oats and Fireweed, 1988
  • Going Out with Peacocks and Other Poems, 1994


See also: The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas

Le Guin is a prolific author and has published many works that are not listed here. Many works were originally published in science fiction literary magazines. Those that have not since been anthologized have fallen into obscurity.

Pronunciation of her surname

In a February 2004 on-line Q&A session organized by The Guardian, Le Guin was asked whether she pronounced her surname the French way or as most of her English-speaking fans did ("Luh Gwinn"). Her reply was Taoist in its duality: "Een zees country we say Luh Gwinn. En France nous disons Le Guin, comme le vin or le gain." [1] (http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/sciencefiction/story/0,6000,1144428,00.html)

External links

da:Ursula K. Le Guin de:Ursula K. Le Guin es:Ursula Kroeber Le Guin eo:Ursula K. LE GUIN fr:Ursula Le Guin it:Ursula Le Guin he:אורסולה לה-גווין nl:Ursula Le Guin ja:アーシュラ・K・ル=グウィン pl:Ursula K. Le Guin sv:Ursula K. LeGuin ru:Ле Гуин, Урсула zh:娥蘇拉勒瑰恩


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