Ursula Reading Her Essay on Abortion, “What It Was Like”


“The last time I filmed with Ursula, in the winter of 2016, I was six months pregnant, she was nearly ninety, and we were both getting a little tired by the time the camera started rolling. In addition to a few passages from her novels and poems that ended up in the documentary, I asked her to read an essay called ‘What It Was Like’ (2012), about the abortion she had as an undergraduate at Radcliffe, at a time when the procedure was illegal and highly stigmatized. As our country is hit by a wave of systematic attacks on women’s sovereignty over their own bodies, her essay feels more essential than ever.”

—Arwen Curry, Director, Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin

“What It Was Like” is available in the collection Words Are My Matter (2016). See also "The Princess" from her 1982 collection Dancing at the Edge of the World.


 A new website

Welcome! Relatively early in internet history, Vonda McIntyre encouraged Ursula to reserve her name as a domain and to start a website. Vonda collaborated with Ursula on the project for many years, acting as internet guru and web master, organizing and managing every character and line of code of the site. The result was an inimitable capsule of parts of Ursula’s life and work, as specific to its creators as a thumbprint.

The previous site was thorough, engaging and labyrinthine; with Vonda’s death in early 2019, Ursula’s estate had to move the site into a new template, which you see today. We’ve tried to preserve the spirit of the original, retaining all content albeit, organized differently. A few pages, buried deep, have yet to be linked, and few broken external links have been removed.

If you miss the old site, you can find it here, though no content after February 2019 has been or will be added. If you have suggestions or comments on the new site, or it something is missing you’d like to see on the site, please contact the estate.


Recent editions:
The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition, illustrated by Charles Vess

Late in 2018, Saga Press released the first complete, omnibus edition of Earthsea containing five novels, the stories of Tales From Earthsea, Ursula’s final Earthsea story, Firelight (published posthumously), and Earthsea Revisioned: A Lecture at Oxford University. With over a thousand pages, and dozens of color and greyscale illustrations, the edition is substantial and beautiful.

Editor Joe Monti brought on preeminent illustrator Charles Vess, who worked with Ursula for more than four years to produce the illustrations. This process became one of the most important and satisfying artistic collaborations of Ursula’s life, and she was able to see all of Charles’ work before her death, save for the illustration for Firelight. She described working with Charles as “magic,” and that feeling carries into the book.

You can read more about the story of how the edition came about in Andrew Liptak’s article in The Verge, and can order at Powell’s and your independent bookseller. Localized editions are available in UK/Commonwealth and Germany as well.


PBS American Masters Presents the Exclusive U.S. Broadcast Premiere of Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, the First Documentary on the Renowned Writer, August 2 on PBS.

2019 Locus Awards: Ursula K. Le Guin: Conversations on Writing by Ursula K. Le Guin & David Naimon (Tin House) receives award for non-fiction, Charles Vess receives award for art for The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition (Saga).

University of Arizona's Catalina Sky Survey, a NASA-funded project surveying for near-Earth asteroids, submitted an asteroid citation for Ursula. Astronomer Gregory Leonard, who along with Rob Seaman advanced the citation, wrote to let us know that the International Astronomical Union approved of the citation: "Ursula now holds a special place in the heavens, as asteroid (181518) 'Ursulaleguin'."


The Literary Arts Tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin

Those who build walls are their own prisoners. I’m going to go fulfil my proper function in the social organism. I’m going to go unbuild walls.
— Ursula K. Le Guin, from "The Dispossessed"