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J. G. Ballard

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James Graham ‘J.G.’ Ballard was an English writer and a prominent member of the ‘New Wave’ movement. He was born on 15th November 1930 in Shanghai, China. A large part of Ballard’s childhood was spent in going through war and its consequences. The apocalyptic and somewhat ferocious nature of his fiction books is said to be the result of his early exposure to the mayhem of war. After the end of war, J. G. Ballard moved to England to live in Plymouth where he attended ‘The Leys School’, Cambridge. Later he enrolled for a medical program in King’s College at Cambridge to become a Psychiatrist. During this time he wrote extensively inspired by psychoanalysts and painters. Ballard now also wanted a career in writing. In 1951, which was his second year at King’s College he wrote his first short story titled ‘The Violent Noon’. It got published in the newspaper magazine ‘Varsity’ and also won a competition.

When Ballard saw the appreciation that his story managed to receive, he decided to quit his medical studies and decided to devote his entire efforts to pursue a writing career. Following his ambition he entered Queens Mary University of London to study English literature though he could not complete the program. J. G. Ballard took up a job as a copywriter in an advertising agency and sold encyclopedias in his spare time. None of his work was getting accepted and all his efforts to get recognized went in vain. It was after he joined the Royal Air Force when he came across American fiction magazine. Ballard wrote many stories in this genre some of which are ‘Escapement’ and ‘Prime Belladonna’ and ‘Passport to Eternity’. He also worked for a scientific journal called ‘Chemistry and Industry’ at the post of assistant editor.

J. G. Ballard realized that his job was not allowing him to write the way he wanted to so he decided to take some time off and take up writing as a full time career. His first novel ‘The Wind from Nowhere’ came out in 1962 and thus this became the means for his financial support from then onwards. The same year ‘The Drowned World’ got published, launching Ballard as a key figure in the ‘New Wave’ movement. Stories like ‘The Terminal Beach’ marked the beginning of a new standard of acceptable science fiction in this period of immense literary output.

1964 was a year of grief for Ballard as is wife died due to Pneumonia leaving behind their three children. This was a very testy time for Ballard when he had to deal with the crisis as the reality of raising the children alone doomed upon him. The death of his wife shook him deeply and this was reflected recurrently in his writings. He wrote many short stories such as ‘The Atrocity Exhibition’ (1969, 1972), ‘Myths of the Near Future’ (1982) and ‘Memories of the Space Age’ (1988). His breakthrough novel was ‘Empire of the Sun’ published in 1984 and his much later work ‘Super Cannes’ (2000) was also quite well received. He was honored with many awards for his brilliant work including the ‘Guardian Fiction Prize’ and the ‘Commonwealth Writers’ Prize’.

J. G. Ballard is known as one of Britain’s greatest writers since 1945; his work being base of the adjective ‘Ballardian’. He died on 19th April 2009 in London.

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