Born in Chicago, IL on August 24, 1915, Alice B. Sheldon (née
Bradley) was the daughter of lawyer and naturalist Herbert Bradley
and Mary Hastings Bradley, a popular and prolific writer of fiction
and travel books. Young Alice traveled the world with her parents
including 1921-22 trip to Africa, which influenced some of her more
famous work. A graphic artist and a painter, Sheldon, under the name
“Alice Bradley Davey” was an art critic for the Chicago Sun
between 1941 and 1942.
After her first
marriage ended, Alice joined the United States Army Air Forces and
worked in photo-intelligence group. Near the end of the war, while
stationed in Paris, she met her second husband Huntington (Ting)
Sheldon, future Director of the Office of Current Intelligence for
the CIA. Returning to the States, Alice, as “Alice Bradley,”
published her first short story “The Lucky Ones” in The New
Yorker (November 16, 1946). In 1952 she joined the CIA, but
resigned in 1955 to return to college. Alice Sheldon eventually got a
Bachelor of Arts degree at American University (1957–59) and a
doctorate at George Washington University in Experimental Psychology
Young Alice with the kikuyus, a native tribe from Africa
Alice adopted her
“James Tiptree, Jr.” persona to protect her academic reputation.
As Tiptree, she garnered immense praise for her numerous tales that
often stretched the boundaries of the genre by challenging the
perceptions of gender. Her many awards include two Hugo (1974
novella, “The Girl Who Was Plugged In”; 1976 novella, “Houston,
Houston, Do You Read?”), three Nebula (1973 short story, “Love Is
the Plan the Plan Is Death”; 1976 novella, “Houston, Houston, Do
You Read?”; 1977 novelette, “The Screwfly Solution”), and a
1987 World Fantasy for the collection Tales of the
In 1977, her Tiptree identity was outed, which surprised many in the field. Sheldon continued writing as Tiptree until her tragic death in 1987. In 1991, Karen Joy Fowler and Pat Murphy established the James Tiptree, Jr. Award for works of science fiction or fantasy that expand or explore our understanding of gender.
Alice with husband Ting
penned the two novels Up the
World and Brightness Falls from the Air. Her
numerous stories have been collected in many volumes including Ten
Thousand Light-Years from Home,
Warm Worlds and Otherwise,
Out Of The Everywhere and Other Extraordinary
Visions, The Starry
Rift, Crown Of Stars, and HER SMOKE ROSE UP FOREVER. Her poetry from the late 1940s and early 1950s were collected in NEAT SHEETS: THE POETRY OF JAMES TIPTREE, JR.
For more info about HER SMOKE ROSE UP FOREVER, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by John Picacio.
For more info about NEAT SHEETS: THE POETRY OF JAMES TIPTREE, JR, visit the Tachyon page.