Ursula Kroeber Le Guin (1929 – 2018) was an American author best known for her works of speculative fiction, including science fiction works set in her Hainish universe, and the Earthsea fantasy series. She was first published in 1959, and her literary career spanned nearly sixty years, producing more than twenty novels and over a hundred short stories, in addition to poetry, literary criticism, translations, and children’s books. Frequently described as an author of science fiction, Le Guin has also been called a “major voice in American Letters”. Le Guin herself said she would prefer to be known as an “American novelist”.
Ursula K. Le Guin’s writing was enormously influential in the field of speculative fiction, and has been the subject of intense critical attention. She received numerous accolades, including eight Hugo awards, six Nebula awards, and twenty-two Locus Awards, and in 2003 became the second woman honored as a Grand Master of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. The U.S. Library of Congress named her a Living Legend in 2000, and in 2014, she won the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Le Guin influenced many other authors, including Booker Prize winner Salman Rushdie, David Mitchell, Neil Gaiman, and Iain Banks. After her death in 2018, critic John Clute wrote that Le Guin had “presided over American science fiction for nearly half a century”, while author Michael Chabon referred to her as the “greatest American writer of her generation”.
Le Guin’s career as a professional writer spanned nearly sixty years, from 1959 to 2018. During this period, she wrote more than twenty novels, more than a hundred short stories, more than a dozen volumes of poetry, five translations, and thirteen children’s books. Her writing encompassed speculative fiction, realistic fiction, non-fiction, screenplays, librettos, essays, poetry, speeches, translations, literary critiques, chapbooks, and children’s fiction. Le Guin’s first published work was the poem “Folksong from the Montayna Province” in 1959, while her first published short story was “An die Musik”, in 1961. Her first professional publication was the short story “April in Paris” in 1962, while her first published novel was Rocannon’s World, released by Ace Books in 1966. Her final publications included the non-fiction collections Dreams Must Explain Themselves and Ursula K Le Guin: Conversations on Writing, both released after her death. Her best-known works include the six volumes of the Earthsea series, and the many novels of the Hainish Cycle.
Ursula K. Le Guin – First Edition Identification Guide
Note: This list only includes works published prior to 1977.
|Year||Title||Publisher||First edition/Printing Identification Points|
|1967||CITY OF ILLUSIONS||New York: Ace Books, Inc., ||Wrappers. No statement of printing on © page. Ace Book G-626 (50¢). |
ALSO: London: Victor Gollancz, 1971. Boards. No statement of printing on © page. First hardcover edition.
|1974||THE DISPOSSESSED||New York Evanston San Francisco London: Harper & Row, Pub., ||Boards with cloth shelf back. First edition so stated on © page.|
|1977||EARTHSEA||London: Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1977||Boards. No statement of printing on © page. Reprint. Collects A WIZARD OF EARTHSEA, THE TOMBS OF ATUAN, and THE FARTHEST SHORE.|
|1972||THE FARTHEST SHORE||New York: Atheneum, 1972||Two bindings, priority as listed: |
|1971||THE LATHE OF HEAVEN||New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, ||Boards with cloth shelf back. Code 4-J0.77 (C) on © page.|
|1969||THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS||New York: An Ace Book, ||Wrappers. No statement of printing on © page. An Ace Science Fiction Special 47800 (95¢). |
Note: First printing does not mention Hugo and Nebula awards won by Le Guin. Second printing bearing same stock number and price carries notices of Hugo and Nebula awards.
ALSO: New York: Walker and Company, . Boards. Published in the United States of America in 1969 ... on © page. First hardcover edition.
ALSO: New York: Ace Books, . Wrappers. Twelve-line printing history on © page with line twelve reading: Twelfth Ace printing: July, 1976. Ace 47805 ($1.95). New introduction by Le Guin.
|1976||ORSINIAN TALES||New York, Hagerstown, San Francisco, London: Harper & Row, Pub., ||Boards with cloth shelf back. First edition so stated on © page.|
|1966||PLANET OF EXILE||New York: Ace Books, Inc., ||Wrappers. No statement of printing on © page. Ace Double G-597 (50¢). Bound with MANKIND UNDER THE LEASH by Thomas M. Disch. |
ALSO: [New York & London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1975.] No statement of printing on © page. First hardcover edition. Notes: (1) Photo-reproduction of the 1972 Tandem edition. (2) Not issued in dust jacket.
|1966||ROCANNON'S WORLD||New York: Ace Books, Inc., ||Wrappers. No statement of printing on © page. Ace Double G-574 (50¢). Bound with THE KARCHEE REIGN by Avram Davidson. |
ALSO: [New York & London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1975.] No statement of printing on © page. First hardcover edition. Notes: (1) Photo-reproduction of the 1966 Ace Books edition. (2) Not issued in dust jacket.
ALSO: New York, Hagerstown, San Francisco, London: Harper & Row, Pub., . Boards with cloth shelf back. First printing has code 77 78 79 80 81 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 on © page. Note: Photo-offset of the second Ace Books printing with new introduction and a few textual corrections by Le Guin.
|1971||THE TOMBS OF ATUAN||New York: Atheneum, 1971||First edition so stated on © page. Two states of copyright notice: (1) Notice on © page reads Copyright ©1971 by Ursula K. Le Guin. (2) Original notice altered by a cancel affixed to © page to read Copyright © 1970, 1971 by Ursula K. Le Guin. Two dust jacket states: (1) Newbery Honor Book seal not pasted on front panel. (2) Silver circular seal pasted on front panel identifying this title as a Newbery Honor Book. Note: Copies with and without the cancel copyright notice have been observed in jacket with the Newbery seal.|
|1976||VERY FAR AWAY FROM ANYWHERE ELSE||New York: Atheneum, 1976||First edition so stated on © page. Note: Published in Great Britain as A VERY LONG WAY FROM ANYWHERE ELSE. This title is taken directly from a line in the novel and is preferred by the author.|
|1976||THE WATER IS WIDE||Portland: Pendragon Press, ||1000 copies printed. Three issues, no priority: |
|1975||THE WIND'S TWELVE QUARTERS||New York, Evanston San Francisco, London: Harper & Row, Pub., ||Boards with cloth shelf back. First edition so stated on © page.|
|1968||A WIZARD OF EARTHSEA||Berkeley: Parnassus Press, ||No statement of printing on © page. Three printings, priority as listed: |
|1976||THE WORD FOR WORLD IS FOREST||New York: Published by Berkley Publishing Corp, ||No statement of printing on © page. |
Note: First separate edition in English. Originally appeared in Again, Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison. ALSO: London: Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1977. Boards. No statement of printing on © page. Adds "Author's Introduction."
Ursula K. Le Guin – First Printing Dust Jacket Identification Points
Gallery of First state Dust Jackets of Le Guin’s works. Only includes the first appearance in book form. Either the UK or US edition and does not include later printings.
- L. W. Currey, Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors: A Bibliography of First Printings of Their Fiction and Selected Nonfiction.