On Tuesday, May 25 at 6:30pm ET American Writers Museum in Chicago continues their National Endowments for the Arts Big Read online exploration of Fahrenheit 451 as Christie Hefner discusses Playboy Magazine and its connection to Bradbury’s now famous science fiction novel. As Chairman & CEO of Playboy Enterprises for 20 years, and the daughter of Playboy’s founder, Christie Hefner is well placed to offer insight into the intersection of politics, culture, art, and personal interest that created what some thought an unlikely relationship between Bradbury, Hugh Hefner, science fiction, and Playboy magazine.
Playboy’s inaugural issue in December, 1953 featured a controversial Marilyn Monroe centerfold. With science fiction often relegated to the “pulps” as inferior literature, some thought the March 1954 issue of Playboy almost as daring: it featured the first installment of Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, a relatively unknown novel about futuristic firefighters who burn books for a living. Two more installments would follow in April and May. Playboy paid just $400 to serialize the book but the exposure promised to introduce Bradbury to a new audience–and burnish the reputation of Hugh Hefner’s fledgling magazine. It was a win-win arrangement: Bradbury was never comfortable being pigeonholed into one particular genre and the book’s defense of freedom of thought appealed deeply to Hefner, who was also a sci-fi fan. It was the first of over 30 times Bradbury’s stories would appear in Playboy.
The American Writers Museum’s NEA Big Read is presented in partnership with Arts Midwest as a way to foster community involvement and broaden understanding through the experience of sharing good books.