Lafayette Ronald Hubbard ( HUB-ərd; March 13, 1911 – January 24, 1986) was an American author of science fiction and fantasy stories, and the founder of the Church of Scientology. In 1950, Hubbard authored Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health and established a series of organizations to promote Dianetics. In 1952, Hubbard lost the rights to Dianetics in bankruptcy proceedings, and he subsequently founded Scientology. Thereafter Hubbard oversaw the growth of the Church of Scientology into a worldwide organization.
Born in Tilden, Nebraska, in 1911, Hubbard spent much of his childhood in Helena, Montana. After his father was posted to the U.S. naval base on Guam, Hubbard traveled to Asia and the South Pacific in the late 1920s. In 1930, Hubbard enrolled at George Washington University to study civil engineering but dropped out in his second year. He began his career as a prolific writer of pulp fiction stories and married Margaret "Polly" Grubb, who shared his interest in aviation.
Hubbard was an officer in the Navy during World War II, where he briefly commanded two ships but was removed from command both times. The last few months of his active service were spent in a hospital, being treated for a variety of complaints.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, he spent much of his time at sea on his personal fleet of ships as "Commodore" of the Sea Organization, an elite paramilitary group of Scientologists. Some ex-members and scholars have described the Sea Org as a totalitarian organization marked by intensive surveillance and a lack of freedom.
Hubbard returned to the United States in 1975 and went into seclusion in the California desert. In 1978, Hubbard was convicted of fraud after he was tried in absentia by France. In August 1978, 11 high-ranking members of Scientology were indicted on 28 charges for their role in the Church's Operation Snow White, one of the largest infiltrations of the United States government in history, with up to 5,000 covert agents. One of the indicted was Hubbard's wife Mary Sue Hubbard. L. Ron Hubbard was named an unindicted co-conspirator.
Hubbard spent the remaining years of his life in a luxury motorhome on his California property, attended to by a small group of Scientology officials including his physician. In 1986, L. Ron Hubbard died at age 74.
Following Hubbard's death, Scientology leaders announced that his body had become an impediment to his work and that he had decided to "drop his body" to continue his research on another planet. Though many of Hubbard's autobiographical statements have been found to be fictitious, The Church of Scientology describes Hubbard in hagiographic terms and rejects any suggestion that its account of Hubbard's life is not historical fact.