Women's History Month Feature: Octavia E. Butler


The month of March signifies the beginning of Women’s history Month. In honor of this occasion, we will be featuring an outstanding woman from history, highlighting the amazing accomplishments of women in our nation’s storied past

Our next installment features Octavia E. Butler, science-fiction author and winner of the MacArthur "Genius" Grant. 

Octavia E. Butler was born in Pasadena, California in 1947 and raised by her widowed mother. An extremely shy child with dyslexia, she was bullied and also experienced discrimination in a racially segregated community. Butler turned to reading and writing as an escape. She soon received accolades for her writing in college, while also becoming involved in the Black Power movement, which would go on to shape the themes of her stories.

After graduated college and attending numerous science fiction writing workshops, Butler began writing and selling enough of her stories and novels to support herself fulltime. In 1984, she received prominence from winning the prestigious Hugo Award for her short story, Speech Sounds. 


Beginning in 1993, Butler began publishing the Parable series, which further increased her fame as a writer, culminating in her receiving the MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant in 1995. 

Her work incorporated themes on climate change, corporate greed and the experiences of African-Americans as it related to societal hierarchies. Butler's work has been considered by many to be an example of Afrofuturism, a genre that addresses African-American concerns in the context of 20th century technology and culture.

Octavia E. Butler passed at the age of 58 in Washington, but her works can still be enjoyed in the research collection of the Huntington Library in Southern California. Her works continue to be a tremendous influence in the science-fiction community, particularly for African-Americans and women, two groups historically marginalized in the community.

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