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Isaac Asimov's Gray Hair Dedication

Introduction - Isaac Asimov's Gray Hair Dedication

Isaac Asimov Isaac Asimov

I recently finished reading Foundation, Isaac Asimov's famous science fiction classic work published originally in 1951.  I was amused to see the dedication page when I opened the used paperback book, which had seen better days.

I found the Asimov book buried in some of the stack of used books in Oscar's Things, which I am currently listing for sale on

The dedication page simply noted "To My Mother Of Whose Authentic Gray Hair Not A Few Were Caused By Myself." Isaac Asimov's gray hair dedication to his mother, Anna Rachel (Berman) Asimov was touching and quite interesting.

Isaac Asimov (born Isaak Yudovich Ozimov), was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University.  He was considered to be one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimate 90,000 letters and postcards.

Asimov is widely considered a master of hard science fiction and, along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, he was considered one of the "Big Three" science fiction writers during his lifetime.

Did Asimov Cause His Mother's Gray Hair?

After reading Isaac's dedication to his mother and willingness to take responsibility for her gray hair, I wondered what actions he might have taken in his life that lead to the note.  Or maybe Isaac and his mother had a shared joke where his mother would tell him his various life choices were giving her gray hair.

Isaac Asimov Isaac Asimov

Asimov was known to have a great sense of humor and to be warm and friendly.  Maybe his gray hair dedication to his mother was just his way of teasing her or sharing his love for his mother.

In reality it's unlikely Isaac, no matter how stress inducing his behaviors might have been, cause his mother to go gray.  What's more likely is that his mother turned gray as a result of her genetics and age.

Can fear and/or extreme stress change hair to gray?  In very extreme cases it may be possible.  However, most hair experts agree that gray hair rarely occurs overnight.

While it's definitely true your psychological state has a significant impact on the hormones which  effect the amount of melanin deposited in each strand of hair, the effect of stressful emotions take a long time to manifest.

The hair on everyone's head emerges from follicles a long time ago. Graying or any other hair color change, not triggered by dyes, are a gradual process, which occur over the course of several weeks, months, or years.

Gray Hair Touch Up Gray Hair Touch Up

Isaac Asimov's Gray Hair

Ironically, in later years of his writing career, Asimov was noted for his own gray hair.  Probably inherited from his beloved mother.

Asimov suffered a heart attack in 1977, and had triple bypass surgery in December 1983. When he died in New York City on April 6, 1992, his brother Stanley reported heart and kidney failure as the cause of death.

He was survived by his second wife, Janet, and his children from his first marriage.

Ten years after his death, Janet Asimov's edition of Asimov's autobiography, It's Been a Good Life, revealed that the myocardial and renal complications were the result of an infection by HIV, which he had contracted from a blood transfusion received during his bypass operation.

Summary - Isaac Asimov's Gray Hair Dedication

Isaac Asimov's dedication to his mother in his book, Foundation, made reference to her "authentic gray hair" which he felt he had "caused".  Did Isaac Asimov really cause his mother to develop gray hair as a result of his actions?  Probably not, but it makes for a great story and an unusual blog.

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