In July Jay of Bibliophilica mentioned in a comment that there is a Center for Ray Bradbury Studies in Indianapolis. I was so surprised and delighted to find that out, but it wasn’t until I had a day off in November that I had the chance to visit the Center.
Jon Eller is the director of the Center and has written two biographies of Bradbury, the second of which will be published next year. He was kind enough to show me around and explain a bit of what they do. A lot of their work is devoted to creating definitive editions of Bradbury’s work. Many of his stories were edited extensively by editors who removed some of the beautiful language in his original version.
The Center is a treasure trove of Bradbury memorabilia. There’s an entire wall with different editions of his work including audiobooks, foreign editions and more. There are also movie posters from films based on his books and even a set chair that Bradbury used on one film set. There are awards Bradbury received from different organizations and a murky jar used as a prop on an episode of Hitchcock’s TV show based on a short story by Bradbury.
One thing I was surprised to learn is that Bradbury frequently revised his short story collections. He would sometimes remove a story that he felt had become dated and replace it with a new one. So it's difficult to determine the definitive edition of each collection because they sometimes changed over the years. There are also multiple names for some of his books. The Martian Chronicles is called The Silver Locusts in England. Another thing I had no idea about was that Ray Bradbury wrote the script for the 1950s film version of Moby Dick by John Huston. The man had a fascinatingly diverse career!
The 60th anniversary edition (see above) of Fahrenheit 451 (which has an introduction written by Neil Gaiman) includes an essay by Jon Eller himself. He actually sent me home with a copy and I am so excited to read all of the supplementary material!
The Center recently expanded its collection and will soon be moving to a new facility. In addition to the correspondence and materials they currently have, they will be adding a huge number of Bradbury’s own books and other items. They are also planning on setting up an area with the furniture from his own home to recreate his working office. I’m sure it will be incredible when it’s complete!
If you are in Indiana and would like to tour the Center you can contact them to schedule a visit at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to contribute to their expansion campaign you can do so here.
Photos by moi.