WTF Fun Fact 13181 – Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 Draft

The first draft of author Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 was written on a rented coin-operated typewriter in 1953. It charged 10 cents for every 30 minutes. People estimate that the monetary cost of producing the draft was around $9.80.

What is Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451

You may have heard of the iconic dystopian novel in high school or college. At least, hopefully. If you’ve only heard about it in the news, chances are you’re not getting the full story (in more ways than one).

Bradbury wrote his novel during the Red Scare and McCarthy era, a time of ideological strife and oppression as the Nazis burned books and Americans threatened to. Some see connections between the current political climate and the one Bradbury wrote in, so the book occasionally comes up during political conversations. As with any book, it’s better to read it for yourself (and also know a bit about the precise context in which it was written since Bradbury was not commenting on 21st-century matters).

The author has given a few different motivations for his writing – fear of American book burnings, fear of mass media (specifically, the rise of radio and television) ruining our interest in literature, and government censorship. Again, these are all things we worry about today, but in a different context.

If you know anything about Bradbury himself, it can further complicate the reading of the book. He felt that political correctness was a form of censorship, but also abhored politics in general, especially in education.

Set in the distant future, the book is about “firemen” who are charged with burning any book they find. The main character eventually grows disenchanted and dedicates himself to the preservation of books.

Bradbury’s basement writing

Bradbury had great disdain for media consumption via radio, TV, and later the Internet. In his later years, he often encouraged students to “live in the library” instead. Unable to afford college, he educated himself at the Los Angeles Public Library. But he was also disappointed by their lack of science fiction literature.

Nevertheless, in the early 1950s, he worked in the basement at UCLA’s Powell Library. He had children at home, so needed a quiet place. It was there that he typed out the first draft (or novella version) of Fahrenheit 451. It was originally called “The Fireman.”

As for the title, according to Open Culture (cited below):

“When it came to finding the book’s title, however, supposedly the temperature at which books burn, not only did the library fail him, but so too did the university’s chemistry department. To learn the answer, and finish the book, Bradbury finally had to call the fire department.”  WTF fun facts

Source: “Ray Bradbury Wrote the First Draft of Fahrenheit 451 on Coin-Operated Typewriters, for a Total of $9.80” — Open Culture