CSM Airs ‘The Man Behind the Masterpiece’

Sam Weller

Biographer Sam Weller Discusses Ray Bradbury, ‘Fahrenheit 451’ for The Big Read

            The College of Southern Maryland will broadcast “The Man Behind the Masterpiece,” a lecture by author Sam Weller on the life of science fiction author Ray Bradbury on Channel 98 in Charles and St. Mary’s counties beginning March 6. Excerpts of Weller’s lecture are also available for viewing on CSM’s web site through CSMDTube.

            Bradbury is an award-winning science fiction author whose works include books and short stories such as “Fahrenheit 451,” “Something Wicked This Way Comes” and “The Martian Chronicles.” Bradbury has worked in film and television, writing screenplays for “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “The Twilight Zone” and Hollywood producer John Huston’s film adaptation “Moby Dick.”

            Weller, Bradbury’s official biographer, has been a fan of Bradbury’s literary works since before birth, he said, explaining that his father read “The Illustrated Man” to his mother while she was pregnant with him. In his teens, Weller had read all of Bradbury’s novels and short stories, preparing him for his interview in 2000 of Bradbury for a feature in “The Chicago Tribune.” Weller so impressed Bradbury with his knowledge of his works, that Bradbury agreed later to allow Weller to write his biography. The result, Weller’s “The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury,” was a “Los Angeles Times” bestseller and received the 2005 award for best biography by the Society of Midland Authors.

            “The Man Behind the Masterpiece” lecture was part of The Big Read in Southern Maryland, an initiative of the National Endowment of the Arts. “Fahrenheit 451” is Southern Maryland’s second selection for The Big Read, bringing together a number of partners in the community to offer events and activities focused on Bradbury’s classic.

            In addition to his lecture at CSM, Weller spoke to packed auditoriums at three area high schools during his two-day visit. At Huntingtown High School in Calvert County, Weller spoke to AP English students; at Chopticon High School in St. Mary’s County, Weller spoke to the entire ninth-grade class; and at Westlake High School in Charles County, Weller was joined by students from North Point and McDonough high schools. Weller encouraged students to read five Bradbury short stories and to share their thoughts with him by e-mail. Before the end of the day, Weller had received student responses.

            Advice from Bradbury for young parents, Weller said, is to surround their children with books at the youngest age and to read, read, read aloud to them.

            For information and broadcast schedule for Weller’s complete lecture, visit www.csmd.edu/csmtv.

            To view video clips of “The Man Behind the Masterpiece” lecture, visit www.youtube.com/csmdtube.



Five ‘Must-Read’ Ray Bradbury Short Stories

During his lectures at area high schools as part of The Big Read in Southern Maryland, Sam Weller, the official biographer of Ray Bradbury, challenged students to read the following five Bradbury short stories: “The Lake,” “The Sound of Thunder,” “All Summer in A Day,” “The Homecoming” and “The Sound of Summer Running.”

More relevant than ever a half-century later, “Fahrenheit 451” has achieved the rare distinction of being both a literary classic and a perennial bestseller. The Big Read 2010 grantees, totaling $3,742,765, represent 44 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Since the 2006 pilot program with 10 participating organizations, the NEA has given more than 800 grants to support The Big Read’s local projects. The NEA launched The Big Read nationally in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in cooperation with Arts Midwest.

The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts-both new and established-bringing the arts to all Americans, and providing leadership in arts education.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. For information, visit www.imls.gov.

Arts Midwest connects people throughout the Midwest and the world to meaningful arts opportunities, sharing creativity, knowledge, and understanding across boundaries. Arts Midwest connects the arts to audiences throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.One of six non-profit regional arts organizations in the United States, Arts Midwest’s history spans more than 25 years. For information, visit www.artsmidwest.org.