Arthur C. Clarke

Born: December 16, 1917, Minehead
Died: March 19, 2008, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Occupation: Science Fiction Author

Challenges overcome: Post Polio Syndrome

Successes, Achievements & Awards:

Arthur Clarke was a science fiction writer, science writer and inventor. He was born in 1917 in Somerset, and grew up on a farm, where he enjoyed stargazing and science fiction magazines.
During World War II, Clarke worked for the RAF, and after leaving; Arthur gained a first class degree in mathematics and physics from King’s College London, and served as chairman of the British Interplanetary Society from 1946 –1947 and 1951-1953.
His first work of science fiction ‘Travel By Wire’ was published in Science Fiction Association’s fanzine, Amateur Science Stories in 1937. ‘Loophole’ and ‘Rescue Party’ were Arthur’s first professional fictional sales, as they appeared in Astounding, published in April and May 1946.  Clarke’s most prophetic work, an essay entitled ‘Extra Terrestrial Relays’, published in the Wireless World journal in 1945, suggested using rocket technology to place geosynchronous orbit satellite systems around the earth to create a communications network – which is essentially the system we have in place today.
Arthur won the UNESCO Kalinga prize for science writing in 1961. He has also won awards from the British Science Fiction Association, Nebula, Hugo, Campbell and Locus Magazine for his science writing and novels. Clarke’s visionary realism was showcased for all to see in Stanley Kubricks 1968 space film, ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, in which Arthur worked as a screenwriter. Arthur wrote and published a novelisation with several sequels to the movie. At this time, Arthur was the best-known science fiction writer in the world, and one of the few with genuine bestseller status.

With a growing reputation as a commentator on science and technology, Arthur received many accolades and appointments, including the Bradford Washburn award from Boston’s Museum of Science in 1977. In 1995, Arthur received the Distinguished Public Service Medal from NASA. Clarke became the patron of the Science Fiction Foundation, and President of the British Science Fiction Association. For his writing success, Arthur received honorary literary degrees from Bath University in 1988, Liverpool in 1995 and Hong Kong in 1996.

Arthur settled down in Sri Lanka in 1956, which is where he lived until his death. Using money from his Marconi Fellowship Award, which he won in 1982, Arthur set up the Arthur C Clarke Centre for Modern Technology in Sri Lanka. Arthur received Sri Lanka’s highest civil honour; Sri Lankabhimanya (Pride of Sri Lanka), in 2005. For his literary services, Arthur received knighthood in 1998 but was not formally knighted until May 2000.

On his 90th Birthday, Clarke gave an address, expressed his birthday wishes; which were for evidence of extraterrestrial life, the replacement of coal and oil with clean energy, and for lasting peace in his adopted country of Sri Lanka.

Challenges Overcome

In 1962, Arthur contracted polio, which resulted in post polio syndrome in 1988. Arthur spent his last years wheelchair bound because of this disability.

Arthur died on 19th March 2008, at 90 years old, from respiratory difficulties and heart failure due to his post polio syndrome.

Disability Definitions


Poliomyelitis often called Polio or Infantile Paralysis is an infectious disease caused by the Polio Virus. Approximately 90% to 95% of infections cause no symptoms. Another 5 to 10% of people have minor symptoms such as: fever, headache, vomiting, diarrhoea, neck stiffness and pains in the arms and legs. These people are usually back to normal within one or two weeks. In about 0.5% of cases there is muscle weakness resulting in an inability to move. The weakness most often involves the legs but may less commonly involve the muscles of the head, neck and diaphragm.

Years after recovery Post-Polio Syndrome may occur, with a slow development of muscle weakness similar to what the person had during the initial infection.


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Information sources:

Please click on the information links below to find out more.

Arthur C. Clarke. (2015, March 28). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 13:35, April 2, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Arthur_C._Clarke&oldid=653940093

Andy Sawyer, ‘Clarke, Sir Arthur Charles (1917–2008)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Jan 2012; online edn, May 2012 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/99808  accessed 28 July 2015]. Please note that you will require library subscription or a library card to access the content on this site.

Image source – Wikicommons

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