Octavia E. Butler

Women in Power in the Arts

Octavia E. Butler (1947-2006) was a science fiction writer who centered African American experience and history in her stories of alien worlds, parallel universes, shapeshifters, and time travelers. Born in Pasadena, CA in 1947, Butler was an extremely shy child who found an outlet in writing. She attended the esteemed Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop, where she was able to refine her craft and publish her first books. By imagining new futures for the marginalized while interrogating misogyny, racism, and structures of power, her writing serves as a cornerstone of the Afrofuturist movement. She opened the largely white, male universe of science fiction to readers and ideas that had previously been excluded, and was the first science fiction writer to win the MacArthur Genius Grant. Butler died of a stroke in 2006 at the age of 58.

Text written by Eli Boyne, Library associate in Rare Books at Howard-Tilton Memorial Library


Suggested Resources:

Jamika Ajalon. Locations of the M/Othership: Black Women as Fugitive Archetype of Resistance. New York, NY: Third World Newsreel, 2009. DVD 2011- 0085, 6th floor service desk

Octavia E. Butler. Conversations with Octavia Butler. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2010. PS352.U827 Z46 2010

Gregory Jerome Hampton. Changing Bodies in the Fiction of Octavia Butler: Slaves, Aliens, and Vampires. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2010. PS3552.I827 Z69 2010


A black and white photograph of Octavia Butler seated at home in front of several bookshelves.
Covert art white design on purple background for "Clay's Ark."
Cover art for the book "Xenongenesis"