Ray Bradbury on the “golden elixir” of his childhood (originally published in 1953):
Half a century ago, Ray Bradbury wrote about the golden elixir of his childhood. That story continues to travel around the world.
Little did I know, as the old saying goes, that when publishing my “Dandelion Wine” story in gourmet in 1953 I was starting a novel.
The history of my books is most strange. My stories, essays, and poems suddenly grow full and tall.
The Martian Chronicles, for example, born in 1944 as a collection of stories, along the way civilized an entire planet.
Similarly Green Shadows, White Whale. My life in Ireland, written as poems and plays, finally became a novel about John Huston and Moby Dick.
Dandelion Wine then was a series of word associations about my hometown, remembering how it was to run in a new pair of tennis shoes or to perch on the family porch on those wonderful summer nights when we filled the sky with rockets and fire balloons.
The novel was published in 1957. Since then, I’ve been astounded to receive letters from Sweden, where summer lasts perhaps three or four days, or Kenya, where summer lasts forever. Then, Tokyo. Where is there room for grass anywhere in Tokyo, how in hell could they grow dandelions to make wine?
But every Christmas for 20 years, 40 Japanese students airmail me essays, poems, and novel fragments about Dandelion Wine as a special gift to end the year. Their exquisite writing cracks my heart. How peculiar that my grandfather’s cellar pressings would be a proper vintage for those students halfway round the world.
Along the way the book has shifted locales and costumed itself in stage plays and musicals. Three different composers have written music for the productions that have appeared in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.