Robert A. Heinlein

On this date in 1907, Robert Anson Heinlein was born in Butler, Mo. The science fiction author is famous for his novel Stranger in a Strange Land (1961). Heinlein was one of seven children. He attended the University of Missouri and graduated from the Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1929.

Heinlein served in the Navy for five years until discharged after contracting tuberculosis. He studied at the University of California-Los Angeles and conducted research at the Navy Experimental Air Station in Philadelphia during World War II. The prolific author, who had many pseudonyms, won four Hugos for “best novel of the year” (Double Star, Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress).

He eventually published 32 novels, 59 short stories and 16 collections. Four films, two television series, several episodes of a radio series and a board game have been derived more or less directly from his work.

Heinlein wrote, “The faith in which I was brought up assured me that I was better than other people; I was saved, they were damned. … Our hymns were loaded with arrogance — self-congratulation on how cozy we were with the Almighty and what a high opinion he had of us, what hell everybody else would catch come Judgment Day.” (Peter’s Quotations: Ideas for Our Time, ed. Laurence J. Peter, 1977.)

In his 1973 novel Time Enough for Love, he wrote: “History does not record anywhere at any time a religion that has any rational basis. Religion is a crutch for people.”

He married Elinor Curry in 1929 and divorced in 1930, then was married to Leslyn MacDonald from 1932-47. He was married to Virginia Gerstenfeld from 1948 until his death in 1988.

PHOTO: Midshipman Heinlein in the 1929 U.S. Naval Academy yearbook.

Freedom From Religion Foundation