Harry Harrison was born Henry Dempsey in Connecticut in 1925. The son of a printer and a school teacher, raised during the Depression, his family moved around a lot while he was young. Because of this, he had no friends, and did poorly in school, other than in Science and English, which he enjoyed. As an only child, he spent his free time reading science fiction and war magazines, and became the founding member of the Queens chapter of the Science Fiction League while still a teen.
He graduated from high school in 1943, and faced immediate conscription, as the country was in the middle of a war. Not wanting to drown or be shot, he preferred to join the Air Corps, and to ensure that this happened, he became a certified aircraft instrument mechanic. During the war, he trained as a power-operated and computing-gunsight specialist, and eventually performed a variety of jobs, including gunnery instructor. Because of his skill with guns, he was awarded the Sharpshooter medal. To keep boredom at bay during his service, he taught himself Esperanto.
Discharged from the army in 1946, he found himself at loose ends, not knowing what to do with himself. In the Fall of 1946, he began studying art at Hunter College in New York City, and also was studying at the Cartoonists and Illustrators School at the same time, where he met Wallace Wood. After leaving art school, Harrison set up a 'comic book factory', where he, Wood, and others would work. He was illustrating comic books, as well as doing magazine and advertising illustrations. His illustrations for science fiction magazines brought him in contact with the Hydra Club, where he met such notables as Isaac Asimov, Lester del Ray and Damon Knight.
A bout with the flu changed his career; he couldn't draw a line because of his illness, but found that a shaky hand didn't matter at the typewriter. He sold his first story, I Walk Through Rocks to Damon Knight for $100, and it appeared under the title Rock Diver in the February 1951 issue of Worlds Beyond. He continued to write comics, as well as editing them, and other magazines, to support himself. The comic book world suffered a serious blow in the mid-50s with the introduction of the Comic Code; at this point, Harry moved almost exclusively to writing and editing magazines such as Science Fiction Adventures, Fantasy Fiction, Sea Stories, and Private Eye.
He married Joan Merkler in June, 1954, and in 1956 became a freelance writer. He spent a year in Mexico with his wife and son, then returned to the States in 1957 only to go to England for the first World Science Fiction Convention to be held outside the US. They stayed in England, then moved on to Italy, where Harry contacted Dan Barry, the artist for Flash Gordon and offered to write the scripts for the comic. This partnership lasted for close to 10 years. In a story published in 1957, Harrison introduced the character that became known as "The Stainless Steel Rat," the character that he is most known for. He and his family returned to the States for the birth of his daughter in early 1959.
He made his first book sale to John Campbell, editor of Astounding, and saw his first book, Deathworld, published in 1960 as a serial installment in the magazine. By this time, he and his family were living in Denmark, where they stayed for seven years, until 1966, when they moved to England for a year, then back to the States, settling in California. When his children were grown, he and his wife moved back to the U.K., making their home in Ireland, which is now his permanent home.
1951 - Rock Diver appears in the August edition of Worlds Beyond.
1955 - Begins writing The Saint comic strips, continues until the strip ends in 1960.
1957 - First Stainless Steel Rat short story published. Spends a short period writing Jeff Hawke comic scripts for Sidney Jordan in the Autumn, as well as SF comics for Fleetway.
1958 - Begins to write Flash Gordon scripts for the comic strip drawn by Dan Barry. Continues to write these scripts for the next ten years.
1960 - Deathworld published in Astounding.
1961 - The Stainless Steel Rat published in book form.
1962 - Planet of the Damned and War With The Robots published.
1964 - Vendetta For The Saint published under the pseudonym Leslie Charteris. Deathworld 2 published.
1965 - Bill, the Galactic Hero and Two Tales and Eight Tomorrows published.
1966 - Make Room! Make Room! and Plague From Space published.
1967 - The Technicolor Time Machine published.
1968 - Edits the first of nine volumes of the Year's Best SF with Brian Aldiss. Deathworld 3 published.
1969 - Captive Universe and Prime Number published.
1970 - In Our Hands The Stars, One Step From Earth, and The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge published.
1972 - The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World, A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah!, Stonehenge, and Montezuma's Revenge published.
1973 - Soylent Green is released, winning Harry Harrison and the film's screenwriter a Nebula Award. Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers published.
1974 - Queen Victoria's Revenge published.
1976 - Lifeship, Skyfall and The Best of Harry Harrison published.
1977 - Great Balls of Fire published.
1978 - The Stainless Steel Rat Wants You published.
1979 - Planet Story published.
1980 - Homeworld and The QEII Is Missing published.
1981 - Planet of No Return, Wheelworld, and Starworld published.
1982 - Invasion: Earth, The Jupiter Plague, and The Stainless Steel Rat For President published.
1983 - Rebel In Time and Stonehenge: Where Atlantis Died published.
1984 - West of Eden published.
1985 - A Stainless Steel Rat is Born, and You Can Be The Stainless Steel Rat, an interactive game book, published.
1986 - Winter in Eden published.
1987 - The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted published.
1988 - Return to Eden published.
1989 - Bill, the Galactic Hero on The Planet of Robot Slaves published.
1990 - Bill, the Galactic Hero on The Planet of Bottled Brains published.
1991 - Bill, the Galactic Hero on The Planet of Tasteless Pleasure, Bill, the Galactic Hero on The Planet of Ten Thousand Bars, Bill, the Galactic Hero: the Final Incoherent Adventure, and There Won't Be War published.
1992 - The Turing Option published.
1993 - Stainless Steel Visions and The Hammer and the Cross published.
1994 - The Stainless Steel Rat Sings the Blues and Galactic Dreams published.
1995 - One King's Way published.
1996 - King and Emperor and The Stainless Steel Rat Goes to Hell published.
1998 - Stars and Stripes Forever published.
1999 - The Stainless Steel Rat Joins the Circus published.
2000 - Stars and Stripes in Peril published.
2003 - Stars and Stripes Triumphant published.
2004 - West of Eden published.
2005 - Deathworld published.
2006 - Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers published.