Octavia E. Butler Facts 📝

Pioneering writer Octavia E. Butler has a legacy that lives on even after her passing in 2006. She always seemed to have her way with words but a top fact about her reveals she was dyslexic as a child.

Octavia E. Butler

American science-fiction writer

Nonetheless, brave Octavia E. Butler soon defeated the disability and, during her hay days, became an overachiever in the science fiction trope. The acclaimed writer was never afraid of tackling hard topics such as those related to race, politics, and the environment. Here are the top 10 facts about Octavia E. Butler that every fan should know.

She was a pioneering writer of sci-fi

Octavia E. Butler is considered one of the pioneering writers who developed the literary genre of science fiction. Although when Butler joined the train, it was already a fully-fledged niche thanks to the works of previous extraordinary authors such as Jules Verne and Jonathan Swift – who were the founding fathers in the category.

Nonetheless, the fearless and unintimidated Butler had her humble entrance and, before her passing, had left a great impact on the works that she had created in the sci-fi genre. Her works are today considered fundamental to science fiction, especially in the aspect of it inspiring an inclusive culture for people of color and women alike.

Kindred was partly an activisation call

One of the motives for creating the ‘Kindred’ masterpiece was to draw attention to the realities of a quieter existence of racial segregation, and Octavia E. Butler was by no means subtle about it throughout the book. Butler believed that although racism and slavery had ended in principle, in practice, they were still subtly carried out as they were now installed in social systems. Butler took the liberty of ‘Kindred’ as a platform to voice such ills out.

She grew up in the poor corners of Pasadena

Growing up in Pasadena, California, was no fun for Octavia E. Butler. Her parents were folks with little means – her father was a shoeshiner and her mother worked as a maid for the wealthier neighbors, who were majorly white people. Butler never really got the things she needed to make her childhood a fun one like all the other kids her age got. Thankfully, through her efforts and hard work, she made quite a fortune and name for herself before her death.

Her mother worked extra hours to put her through school

While only seven years old, Octavia E. Butler experienced the harsh reality of losing her father. From here, things became even harder for her and her mother, not only in terms of making daily bread, but this also jeopardized her chances of getting an education. Her mother was a strong pillar and support for her as she put in extra hours of work and dedication to the cause and ensured her daughter got the best out of life.

She was dyslexic at a young age

When Butler got into foundational school as a little girl, she was unusually shy and couldn’t easily do the things most of her mates did. One of the things was that she was a slow writer and reader and didn’t catch up quickly as normal pupils, but even that didn’t take away the fact that she had potential.

She discovered her calling at age nine

In the year that Octavia E. Butler turned nine, she discovered that writing was going to be her profession. It started one day when she saw a sci-fi movie from 1954, and after the show thought to herself, ‘I can write a better story than this movie portrays’. That was the earliest sign Butler was going to take up writing sci-fi as a profession.

By thirteen she had her first story published by a magazine

Octavia E. Butler loved writing and, before her thirteenth birthday, had already written quite a handful of short stories. Her stories were actually so good for a writer her age. One of her teachers, who kept close tabs on her development, noticed she had great stories and advised her to pitch one of her stories to one a science magazine. She did and got eventually got published for the first time.

One of her passions was learning everything

As Butler grew, she became extremely interested in personal development and learning things – including those that were outside her passion. For example, after bagging an associate degree from Pasadena City College, she went on to study physics, geology, anthropology, and psychology, among others.

She did all kinds of odd jobs including dishwashing and potato chips inspection

Octavia E. Butler had it rough during the times she was getting rejections from publishers. These periods were hard, and making ends meet was difficult for her. To support herself, Butler occasionally took up menial jobs – including working at a warehouse, dishwashing for eateries, and doing inspections for a potato chips company. When ‘Kindred’ saw success after its publication in 1979, Butler stopped taking in temporary menial jobs as she could now enough to support herself, and she also needed to concentrate fully on her writing career.

She has won multiple high-profile awards in her genre

As far as the science fiction genre is concerned, Octavia E. Butler made quite a reputation for herself with her great book contribution to the industry. Her talents were rewarded by the many prestigious awards that she garnered – including the Hugo award and the Nebula. Butler was also the first sci-fi writer to win the MacArthur prize.


What other jobs did Octavia E. Butler do aside from writing?

Dishwashing, and conducting inspections for potato chips companies were some of the odd jobs that the acclaimed Butler did before becoming famous.

What award has Octavia E. Butler won that no one hasn’t?

The MacArthur prize was the award won by Octavia E. Butler, which none of her genre writers had managed before.

When did Octavia E. Butler publish her first story?

Butler published her first ever write-up in a magazine edition when she was only thirteen years of age.

Victor Onuorah
About Victor Onuorah
Victor is as much a prolific writer as he is an avid reader. With a degree in Journalism, he goes around scouring literary storehouses and archives; picking up, dusting the dirt off, and leaving clean even the most crooked pieces of literature all with the skill of analysis.
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