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Bradley, Marion Zimmer (1930-1999)  
page: 1  2  

Other female-centered work by Bradley includes The Ruins of Isis (1978), a novel exploring matriarchal society; Warrior Woman (1985), a lusty action yarn about female gladiators; Lythande (1986), stories of a magician compelled to live in male disguise, with occasional allusions to her love of women; and The Firebrand (1987), Kassandra's account of the Trojan War and the ascendancy of patriarchal religion. Garber and Paleo provide a detailed survey of her gay and lesbian characters and subplots.

Teenage eroticism is central to The Catch Trap (1979), one of her few works of standard fiction. A gay relationship between two young acrobats plays out against a richly detailed backdrop of American circus life in the 1940s and 1950s. Although the furtiveness and self-doubts of those decades affect the characters' actions, the youths struggle to maintain their bond despite the objections of adults.

Bradley also edited Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine and numerous Sword and Sorceress anthologies. She is also credited with co-founding the Society for Creative Anachronism in 1966.

Although coy about her views on Neo-paganism, Bradley explored occult spirituality, was ordained in a modern Gnostic denomination, and considered contemporary goddess worship to be consistent with a historically pure form of Christianity. By the 1990s she identified as Christian and her funeral rites took place in a Berkeley Episcopal church.

In 1964 Bradley married eccentric numismatist Walter Breen, who shared her interests in science fiction and Gnostic Christianity; they had two children. Breen, who under the pseudonym J. Z. Eglinton wrote Greek Love (1964), was an advocate of man/boy love and there has been speculation that awareness of this side of his personality influenced the undercurrent of sexual plots involving young people in some of Bradley's fiction.

Bradley and Breen were Berkeley neighbors after their 1979 separation. Bradley's final years were scarred by a lawsuit implicating her in Breen's 1991 conviction for sex with a minor; Bradley was accused of knowing about but not acknowledging his activities. The lawsuit was dropped as the result of a financial settlement with the victim just prior to Bradley's death in 1999. Breen, meanwhile, died in prison in 1993.

After a series of strokes beginning in 1987, Bradley died in Berkeley of a heart attack on September 25, 1999. Her ashes were scattered on Glastonbury Tor in England.

Ruth M. Pettis

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Arbur, Rosemarie. Marion Zimmer Bradley: Starmont Reader's Guide 27. San Bernardino, Cal.: Borgo Press, 1985.

Bradley, Marion Zimmer. "Variant Women in Literature." The Ladder 1.8 (May 1957): 8-10.

_____. "Readers Respond." The Ladder 1.8 (May 1957): 20-22.

_____. "Some Remarks on Marriage." The Ladder 1.10 (July 1957): 14-16.

_____. "Readers Respond." The Ladder 2.10 (July 1958): 19-21.

_____. "Symphonic Suite (selections)." The Ladder 3.9 (June 1959): 14-16.

_____. "The House on the Borderland." The Ladder 4.8 (May 1960): 5-6.

_____. "Behind the Borderland." The Ladder 5.1 (October 1960): 6-11.

_____. "Readers Respond." The Ladder 5.5 (February 1961): 23-24.

_____. "Giant Step." Mattachine Review 7.4 (April 1961): 8-26.

_____. "Picture Gallery." The Ladder 5.8 (May 1961): 4-13, 18-20.

_____. "Lesbian Stereotypes in the Commercial novel." The Ladder 8.12 (September 1964): 14-19.

_____. "One Woman's Experience in Science Fiction." Women of Vision. Denise Du Pont, ed. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988. 84-97.

_____, Gene Damon, et al., eds. A Gay Bibliography: Eight Bibliographies on Lesbian and Male Homosexuality. New York: Arno Press, 1975.

Clute, John. "Bradley, Marion Zimmer." The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. John Clute and Peter Nicholls, eds. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993. 153-155.

Farwell, Marilyn R. "Heterosexual Plots and Lesbian Subtexts: Toward a Theory of Lesbian Narrative Space." Lesbian Texts and Contexts: Radical Revisions. Karla Jay and Joanne Glasgow, eds. New York: New York University Press, 1990. 91-103.

Fry, Carrol L. "The Goddess Ascending: Feminist Neo-pagan Witchcraft in Marian Zimmer Bradley's Novels." Journal of Popular Culture 27.1 (Summer 1993): 67-80.

Garber, Eric, and Lyn Paleo, eds. Uranian Worlds: A Guide to Alternative Sexuality in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1990.

Hogan, Steve, and Lee Hudson, eds. Completely Queer: The Gay and Lesbian Encyclopedia. New York: Henry Holt, 1998. 97-98.

Murphy, Laura. "Marion Zimmer Bradley." Twentieth-century American Science-fiction Writers. David Cowart and Thomas L. Wymer, eds. Detroit: Gale Research, 1981. 77-80.

Shwartz, Susan M. "Marion Zimmer Bradley's Ethic of Freedom." The Feminine Eye: Science Fiction and the Women Who Write It. Tom Staicar, ed. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1982. 73-88.

Smith, Jeanette. "Bradley, Marion Zimmer." Gay and Lesbian Literature. Sharon Malinowski, ed. Detroit: St. James Press, 1994. 46-50.


    Citation Information
    Author: Pettis, Ruth M.  
    Entry Title: Bradley, Marion Zimmer  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2005  
    Date Last Updated October 21, 2005  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2005, glbtq, inc.  


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