Octavia E. Butler was an American science fiction writer. A multiple recipient of both the Hugo and Nebula awards, in 1995 she became the first science fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Fellowship, nicknamed the "Genius Grant"
Octavia Estelle Butler was born on June 22, 1947, in Pasadena, California, the only child of Octavia Margaret Guy, a housemaid, and Laurice James Butler, a shoeshine man.
From an early age, an almost paralyzing shyness made it difficult for Butler to socialize with other children. Her awkwardness, paired with a slight dyslexia that made schoolwork a torment, led her to believe that she was "ugly and stupid, clumsy, and socially hopeless," becoming an easy target for bullies. As a result, she frequently passed the time reading at the Pasadena Central Library and writing reams and reams of pages in her "big pink notebook".
At age 10, she begged her mother to buy her a Remington typewriter on which she "pecked [her] stories two fingered". At 12, watching the televised version of the film Devil Girl from Mars (1954) convinced her she could write a better story, so she drafted what would later become the basis for her Patternist novels.
Happily ignorant of the obstacles that a black female writer could encounter, she became unsure of herself for the first time at the age of 13, when her well-intentioned aunt Hazel conveyed the realities of segregation in five words: "Honey ... Negroes can't be writers."
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