Frank Herbert is best known for Dune and the five subsequent novels in the series. The Dune series had themes which dealt with human survival, evolution, ecology, and the collision of religion, politics, and power. Many fans consider it to be the best science fiction epic ever written and it certainly is one of the most popular. Dune was awarded the Nebula award in 1965 and shared the Hugo award with “…and call me Conrad” by Roger Zelazny in 1966. Some of Frank Herbert’s other popular novels are The Dosadi Experiment, The White Plague and The Godmakers.
Frank Herbert was born in 1920 in Tacoma, Washington. Herbert knew at a young age that he wanted to be a writer. In 1939, he lied to Glendale Star about his age to get his first newspaper job.
Frank Herbert served in the U.S. Navy as a photographer during World War II. He married Flora Parkinson in 1941, but four years later he divorced her after having a daughter. After the war, he met Beverly Ann Stuart in a writing class in 1946 while attending the University of Washington. Frank and Beverly married in Seattle on June 20, 1946. Their first son, Brian Herbert, was born in 1947.
Frank Herbert began his career as a novelist by publishing of The Dragon in the Sea in 1955. He used the environment of a submarine to represent sanity and madness. The book predicted worldwide conflicts over oil consumption and production. It was a success with critics and submariners but did not do well commercially.
In 1959, Herbert began researching Dune. After six years of research and writing, Dune was finished. Far longer than the standard science fiction novel at the time, it was first serialized in Analog magazine in two separate parts, in 1963 and 1965. It was then rejected by nearly twenty book publishers before finally being accepted by Chilton, a minor publishing house in Philadelphia. Dune is considered to be the first ecological science fiction novel, containing a massive number of inter-relating themes, plots and character viewpoints which are hallmarks of Herbert’s story telling.
During the 1970s and 80s Herbert enjoyed his greatest success as an author. During this time he wrote numerous books and pushed ecological and philosophical ideas. He continued to write the Dune saga, following it with Dune Messiah, Children of Dune and God Emperor of Dune. But his change in fortune was shaded by tragedy. 1984 was a chaotic year in Herbert's life. That year his wife died and his career took off with the film version of Dune. It mostly drew mostly poor reviews in the United States but the film was a success in Europe and Japan. Frank Herbert also finished the fifth book in the Dune saga, Heretics of Dune during this time.
Ultimately it is Dune for which Herbert will be remembered. Robert A. Heinlein, once observed that Herbert's saga was "Powerful, convincing, and most ingenious." And Arthur C. Clarke claimed Dune was "unique among SF novels...I know nothing comparable to it except The Lord of the Rings."