Marion Zimmer Bradley

Marion Zimmer Bradley
Born Marion Eleanor Zimmer
(1930-06-03)June 3, 1930
Albany, New York, United States
Died September 25, 1999(1999-09-25) (aged 69)
Berkeley, California, United States
Pen name Morgan Ives, Miriam Gardner, John Dexter, Lee Chapman
Occupation Novelist, editor
Nationality United States
Genre Fantasy, science fiction, science fantasy, historical fantasy

Marion Eleanor Zimmer Bradley (June 3, 1930 – September 25, 1999) was an American author of fantasy, historical fantasy, science fiction, and science fantasy novels, and is best known for the Arthurian fiction novel The Mists of Avalon, and the Darkover series. While some critics have noted a feminist perspective in her writing,[1] her popularity has been posthumously marred by multiple accusations against her of child sexual abuse and rape by two of her children, Mark and Moira Greyland, among many others. Zimmer Bradley's first child, David R. Bradley, and her brother, Paul Edwin Zimmer, also became published science fiction and fantasy authors.


Born on a farm in Albany, New York, during the Great Depression, she began writing in 1947. She was married to Robert Alden Bradley from October 26, 1949 until their divorce on May 19, 1964. They had a son, David Robert Bradley (1950–2008). During the 1950s she was introduced to the cultural and campaigning lesbian group the Daughters of Bilitis.

After her divorce, Bradley married numismatist Walter H. Breen on June 3, 1964. They had a daughter, Moira Greyland, who is a professional harpist and singer,[2][3] and a son, Mark Greyland.

In 1965, Bradley graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. Afterward, she moved to Berkeley, California, to pursue graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley between 1965 and 1967. In 1966, she helped found and named the Society for Creative Anachronism and was involved in developing several local groups, some in New York after her move to Staten Island.

Bradley and Breen separated in 1979 but remained married, and continued a business relationship and lived on the same street for over a decade. They officially divorced on May 9, 1990, the year Breen was arrested on child molestation charges after a 13-year-old boy reported that Breen had been molesting him for four years.[4] She had edited Breen's book Greek Love, which was dedicated to her, and in 1965 had contributed an article, "Feminine Equivalents of Greek Love in Modern Literature", to Breen's journal The International Journal of Greek Love.[5][6] She had known about Breen's sexual interests and previously accepted his sexual abuse of a 14-year-old boy.[7]


While she was attending the College for Teachers (now University at Albany, SUNY) in Albany, Bradley became involved in Western esoteric tradition. She later completed the Rosicrucian correspondence course.[8]

In the late 1950s or early 1960s, Bradley and Walter H. Breen founded the Aquarian Order of the Restoration based on the work of Dion Fortune.[8][9][10] By 1961 she was formally initiating others, including Ramfis S. Firethorn.[11]

Bradley was active in Darkmoon Circle, which was founded in 1978 by several women who were members of her Aquarian Order of the Restoration. Bradley renovated her garage to provide a meeting room for Darkmoon Circle as well as for other local Pagan groups.[12] In 1981 Bradley, Diana L. Paxson, and Elisabeth Waters incorporated the Center for Non-Traditional Religion.[8]

In the 1990s Bradley said she would return to Christianity, telling an interviewer: "I just go regularly to the Episcopalian church... That pagan thing... I feel that I've gotten past it. I would like people to explore the possibilities."[13]


After suffering declining health for years, Bradley died at Alta Bates Medical Center in Berkeley on September 25, 1999, four days after suffering a debilitating heart attack.[14] Her ashes were later scattered at Glastonbury Tor in Somerset, England.

Child sex abuse allegations

In 2014, Bradley was accused of sexual abuse by her daughter, Moira Greyland, who stated that she was molested from the age of 3 to 12.

In an email to The Guardian Greyland said that she had not spoken out before because:

I thought that my mother's fans would be angry with me for saying anything against someone who had championed women's rights and made so many of them feel differently about themselves and their lives. I didn't want to hurt anyone she had helped, so I just kept my mouth shut.

Greyland also claimed that she was not the only victim and that she was one of the people who reported her father, Walter H. Breen, for child molestation for which he received multiple convictions.[15][16][17] By her own admission Bradley was aware of her husband's behavior although she chose not to report him.[18]

In response to these allegations, on July 2, 2014 Victor Gollancz Ltd, the publisher of Bradley's digital backlist, announced that it will donate all income from the sales of Bradley's e-books to the charity Save the Children.[19] The author Janni Lee Simner who has continued to write works in Bradley's Darkover series, announced on June 13, 2014 that she would be donating advances from her two Darkover books, her Darkover royalties and at the request of her husband, Larry Hammer, payment for his sale to Bradley’s magazine, to the American anti-sexual assault organization Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.[20]

Since the allegations were made public two of Bradley's children, Moira Greyland and Mark Greyland, have spoken at length about their experiences [21][22] and a number of famous science fiction authors have publicly condemned Bradley. Among the first was John Scalzi, who within a day of the allegations being made public, described the allegations as "horrific".[23] Hugo Award winner Jim C. Hines wrote "All of which makes the revelations about Marion Zimmer Bradley protecting a known child rapist and molesting her own daughter and others even more tragic."[24] G Willow Wilson, World Fantasy award winner, said she was "speechless".[25] Diana L. Paxson who collaborated with Bradley on a number of novels and who continued to write novels set in the Avalon Series after Bradley's death said that she was "shocked and appalled to read Moira Greyland’s posts about her mother". [26]

Literary career

Bradley stated that when she was a child she enjoyed reading adventure fantasy authors such as Henry Kuttner, Edmond Hamilton, C.L. Moore, and Leigh Brackett,[27] especially when they wrote about "the glint of strange suns on worlds that never were and never would be". Her first novel and much of her subsequent work show their influence strongly. At 17, she wrote her first novel The Forest House, her retelling of Norma; it was published after her death.

Bradley made her first sale as an adjunct to an amateur fiction contest in Amazing Stories in 1949 with the short story "Outpost". "Outpost" was published in Amazing Stories Vol. 23, No. 12, the December 1949 issue; it had previously appeared in the fanzine Spacewarp Vol. 4, No. 3, in December 1948. Her first professional publication was a short story "Women Only", which appeared in the second (and final) issue of Vortex Science Fiction in 1953.[28] Her first published novel-length work was Falcons of Narabedla, first published in the May 1957 issue of Other Worlds.

Early in her career, writing as Morgan Ives, Miriam Gardner, John Dexter, and Lee Chapman, Bradley produced several works outside the speculative fiction genre, including gay and lesbian pulp fiction novels; I Am a Lesbian was published in 1962. Though relatively tame by today's standards, her novels were considered pornographic when published, and for a long time she refused to disclose the titles she wrote under these pseudonyms.

Her 1958 novel The Planet Savers introduced the planet of Darkover, which became the setting of a popular series by Bradley and other authors. The Darkover milieu is a science fantasy fictional world, with science fiction as well as fantasy overtones, as Darkover is a lost human colony where psi powers developed to an unusual degree, and work like magic, while technology has regressed to a more-or-less medieval stage. Bradley wrote many Darkover novels by herself, but in her later years collaborated with other authors for publication; her literary collaborators have continued the series since her death.

Bradley took an active role in science fiction and fantasy fandom, promoting interaction with professional authors and publishers and making several important contributions to the subculture. In her teens she wrote letters to the pulp magazines of the time, such as the above-mentioned Amazing Stories and Thrilling Wonder Stories. Starting in the late 40s and continuing in the 50s and 60s, she published her own fanzines, including Astra's Tower, Day*Star, and Anything Box. She also co-edited fanzines, including Ugly Bird with Redd Boggs, MEZRAB with her first husband Robert Bradley, and Allerlei with her second husband Walter Breen. Bradley contributed to several other fanzines, including The Gorgon and The Nekromantikon. In the 1970s, as part of the contemporary wave of enthusiasm for J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional world of Middle-earth, she wrote two short fanfic stories about Arwen and published them in chapbook format. One story, "The Jewel of Arwen" (originally published in a different form in the fanzine I Palantir #2, August 1961), appeared in her professional anthology The Best of Marion Zimmer Bradley (1985), but was dropped from later reprints. She continued to contribute to different sci-fi and fantasy fanzines and magazines throughout her career.

In 1966, Bradley became a co-founder of the Society for Creative Anachronism and is credited with coining the name of that group.[29][30]

For many years, Bradley actively encouraged Darkover fan fiction. She encouraged submissions from unpublished authors and reprinted some of it in commercial Darkover anthologies. This ended after a dispute with a fan over an unpublished Darkover novel of Bradley's that had similarities to one of the fan's stories. As a result, the novel remained unpublished and Bradley demanded the cessation of all Darkover fan fiction.[31]

Bradley was the editor of the long-running Sword and Sorceress anthology series, which encouraged submissions of fantasy stories featuring original and non-traditional heroines from young and upcoming authors. Although she particularly encouraged young female authors, she was not averse to including stories from men in her anthologies. Mercedes Lackey was one of many authors who first appeared in the anthologies. Bradley also maintained a large family of writers at her home in Berkeley, California. Bradley was editing the final Sword and Sorceress manuscript until the week of her death.

Her most famous single novel may be The Mists of Avalon,[32][33] a retelling of the Camelot legend from the point of view of Morgaine and Gwenhwyfar. It grew into a series of books and, like the Darkover series, the later novels are written with or by other authors and have continued to appear since Bradley's death.

In 1962, the noted critic Damon Knight stated that "(h)er work is distinctively feminine in tone, but lacks the clichés, overemphasis and other kittenish tricks which often make female fiction unreadable by males".[34]

Bradley was posthumously awarded the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement in 2000.



Short story collections


Atlantean series

Avalon series

Main article: Avalon series

Colin MacLaren series

Shadow's Gate series

(with Rosemary Edghill)

Darkover series

The Clingfire trilogy
Modern Darkover

(also known as The Children of Kings trilogy) (written principally by Deborah J. Ross)

Glenraven series

(with Holly Lisle)

Survivors series

(with Paul Edwin Zimmer)

Omnibus editions


Darkover anthologies

(edited by Marion Zimmer Bradley, with some short stories by her, but mostly by other writers)

Other anthologies

Novels under pen names



Editorial positions

Scholarly work

Other works

Bradley created several different fanzines, including The Anything Box (2 issues, 1959), Astra's Tower (5 issues, 1947–50), Astra's Tower, Special Leaflet (5 issues, 1952–62), Day*Star (28 issues, 1954–72), Fantasy Ambler (1 issue, 1962), Gemini, Jr. (1 issue, 1951), Gemini FAPA (3 issues, 1951–60), On the Ragged Edge (1 issue, undated), and Catch Trap (at least issues 89–106, early 1960s). She co-edited several other fanzines, including Allerlei (at least 17 issues, 1960–65, with Walter Breen), Anduril (1 issue, 1962, with David Bradley and Paul Zimmer), MEZRAB (7 issues, 1950–52, with Robert A. Bradley), and Ugly Bird (2 issues, 1956–59, with Redd Boggs).

She also contributed to The Ladder and The Mattachine Review. As Elfrieda or Elfrida Rivers, she contributed at least to the underground newspaper The East Village Other, the neo-Pagan periodical Green Egg and also Sybil Leek's Astrology Journal, where she wrote horoscopes and book reviews and had her own column as well as occasionally worked as editors with her husband Walter Breen.



  1. "Contemporary Literary Criticism: Bradley, Marion Zimmer". ENotes.
  2. Moira Greyland's website
  3. "Avalon's Daughter" at
  4. Serrano, Richard A. (October 3, 1991). "Rare Coins Expert Charged With Child Molestation". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 5, 2008.
  5. =John Dececco, Phd; Vern L Bullough, RN, PhD (February 4, 2014). Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context. Routledge. pp. 314–315. ISBN 978-1-317-76628-5.
  6. 1 2 Zimmer Bradley, Marion (1965). "Feminine equivalents of Greek love in modern fiction". International Journal of Greek Love. 1 (1): 48–58. Retrieved 2014-06-16. Tragic denouements in such fiction, when they happen at all, arise either when the older woman fears or rejects such relationships, or when outsiders misunderstand them and break up the affairs, such as in actual cases of either gender.
  7. Rothon, Robert (February 17, 2007). "For the love of coins, past lives and boys". Retrieved April 23, 2009.
  8. 1 2 3 "Marion Zimmer Bradley and the Mists of Avalon", Diana L. Paxson, Arthuriana, Vol. 9, No. 1, SPECIAL DOUBLE ISSUE ON MODERN AND POST-MODERN ARTHURIAN LITERATURE AND TEACHING KING ARTHUR AT HARVARD (SPRING 1999), pp. 110–126, Scriptorium Press
  9. "Rosemary Guiley, 2008, The Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft and Wicca", Checkmark Books
  10. Diana L. Paxson, 2008, "Trance-Portation: Learning to Navigate the Inner World", Diana L. Paxson, Weiser Books
  11. Shelley Rabinovitch and James Lewis (editors), 2004, "The Encyclopedia of Modern Witchcraft and Neo-Paganism", Citadel
  12. "The Pagan Revival and the Fellowship of the Spiral Path", official website of the Fellowship of the Spiral Path
  13. "Marion Bradley; Writer of Fantasy Novels", obituary, LA Times
  14. Marion Zimmer Bradley, 69, Writer of Darkover Fantasies, New York Times, 29 Sep 1999,
  15. Flood, Alison (June 27, 2014). "SFF community reeling after Marion Zimmer Bradley's daughter accuses her of abuse". The Guardian. Retrieved June 27, 2014.
  16. Rosenberg, Alyssa (June 27, 2014). "Re-reading feminist author Marion Zimmer Bradley in the wake of sexual assault allegations". Washington Post. Retrieved June 27, 2014.
  17. Seidl, Christian (June 29, 2014). "Hat die Avalon-Autorin ihre Tochter missbraucht?". Bild. Retrieved June 29, 2014.
  18. Goldin, Stephen (1999). "Timeline of Events". Marion Zimmer Bradley: In Her Own Words. Stephen Goldin. Retrieved 2015-07-27.
  19. "Marion Zimmer Bradley". Victor Gollancz Ltd. July 2, 2014. Retrieved July 2, 2014.
  20. "On doing a thing I needed to do". Janni Lee Simner. June 13, 2014. Retrieved July 10, 2014.
  21. "The Story of Moira Greyland (Guest Post)". July 23, 2015. Archived from the original on May 20, 2016. Retrieved July 24, 2014.
  22. "Secret Keeper No More: An Interview With Mark Greyland". July 16, 2015. Archived from the original on July 17, 2014. Retrieved July 17, 2014.
  23. "This is horrible: Marion Zimmer Bradley's daughter alleges she was molested by her mother.". John Scalzi. June 13, 2014. Retrieved July 11, 2014.
  24. "Rape, Abuse, and Marion Zimmer Bradley". Jim C. Hines. June 23, 2014. Retrieved June 23, 2014.
  25. "I'm speechless about this news re: Marion Zimmer Bradley. I can forgive artists for falling short of their ideals, but not for CHILD ABUSE.". G. Willow Wilson. June 25, 2014. Retrieved June 25, 2014.
  26. "Marion Zimmer Bradley". Diana L. Paxson. June 25, 2014. Archived from the original on April 28, 2016. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
  27. Edward James, "Bradley, Marion Zimmer", St. James Guide To Fantasy Writers, ed. David Pringle, St. James Press, 1996, ISBN 1-55862-205-5, p. 68-71.
  28. Publication Listing – Title: Vortex Science Fiction Vol. 1, No. 2, Internet Speculative Fiction Database
  29. "Latter-Day Knights Battle for Imaginary Kingdoms", The Epoch Times
  30. "...Marion Zimmer Bradley, came up with 'Society for Creative Anachronism' which quickly caught on."
  31. "The Contraband Incident: The Strange Case of Marion Zimmer Bradley." Coker, Catherine. 2011. – Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 6. doi:10.3983/twc.2011.0236. Texas A & M University, College Station, TX
  32. "Marion Zimmer Bradley, 69, Writer of Darkover Fantasies", obituary, NY Times
  33. "Marion Zimmer Bradley", obituary, The Independent.
  34. Knight, Damon (1962). A Century of Science Fiction. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 136. Retrieved July 21, 2012.
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