Ursula Kroeber Le Guin (pron.: /ˈɜrsələ ˈkroʊbər ləˈɡwɪn/; born October 21, 1929) is an American author of novels, children's books, and short stories, mainly in the genres of fantasy and science fiction. She has also written poetry and essays. First published in the 1960s, her work has often depicted futuristic or imaginary alternative worlds in politics, natural environment, gender, religion, sexuality and ethnography.
She grew up in Berkeley, California, the daughter of anthropologist Alfred L. Kroeber and writer Theodora Kroeber. She attended Berkeley High School. In 1901, Alfred Kroeber earned the first Ph.D. in anthropology in the United States from Columbia University. He went on to establish the second anthropology department in the U.S., at the University of California, Berkeley. Theodora Kroeber wrote a biography of her father, Alfred Kroeber: A Personal Configuration.
Le Guin received her B.A. (Phi Beta Kappa) from Radcliffe College in 1951, and M.A. from Columbia University in 1952. She became interested in literature at a young age. At age 11, she submitted her first story to the magazine Astounding Science Fiction. It was rejected. Her earliest writings, some of which she adapted in Orsinian Tales and Malafrena, were non-fantastic stories of imaginary countries. Searching for a way to express her interests, she returned to her early interest in science fiction; in the early 1960s her work began to be published regularly. She received wide recognition for her novel The Left Hand of Darkness, which won the Hugo and Nebula awards in 1970. Her subsequent novel The Dispossessed made her the first person to win both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novel twice for the same two books
She was influenced by fantasy writers like J. R. R. Tolkien, by science fiction writers like Philip K. Dick, by central figures of Western literature like Leo Tolstoy, Virgil and the Brontë sisters, and including feminist writers like Virginia Woolf, by children's literature like Alice in Wonderland, The Wind in the Willows, The Jungle Book, by Norse mythology, and by books from the Eastern tradition such as the Tao Te Ching. In turn, she influenced such Booker Prize winners and other writers, as Salman Rushdie and David Mitchell – and notable futurism and fantasy writers like Neil Gaiman and Iain Banks. She has won the Hugo Award, Nebula Award, Locus Award, and World Fantasy Award, each more than once.
In later years, Le Guin worked in film and audio. She contributed to The Lathe of Heaven, a 1979 PBS film based on her novel of the same name. In 1985, she collaborated with avant-garde composer David Bedford on the libretto of Rigel 9, a space opera. In May 1983, Le Guin delivered a well-received commencement address entitled "A Left Handed Commencement Address" at Mills College, Oakland, California. "A Left Handed Commencement Address" is included in her nonfiction collection Dancing at the Edge of the World.
In December 2009, Le Guin resigned from the Authors Guild in protest over its endorsement of Google's book digitization project. "You decided to deal with the devil", she wrote in her resignation letter. "There are principles involved, above all the whole concept of copyright; and these you have seen fit to abandon to a corporation, on their terms, without a struggle.
Rocannon's World?, 1966
Planet of Exile?, 1966
City of Illusions?, 1967
The Left Hand of Darkness?, 1969
The Dispossessed?: An Ambiguous Utopia, 1974
The Word for World is Forest?, 1976
Four Ways to Forgiveness?, 1995 (Four Stories of the Ekumen)
The Telling?, 2000