Edward Abbey was born January 29, 1927 in Indiana, Pennsylvania, and grew up in nearby Home. After military service in Naples, Italy, from 1945-47, he enrolled in Indiana University of Pennsylvania for a year before traveling to the West. He fell in love with the desert Southwest and eventually attended the University of New Mexico, where he obtained both graduate and post-graduate degrees. Abbey was a Fulbright Fellow from 1951-52. Abbey was an anarchist and a radical environmentalist; these positions are reflected in his writings. His novel Fire on the Mountain won the Western Heritage Award for Best Novel in 1963. Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness, considered by many to be his best work, is nonfiction that reflects Abbey's love for the American Southwest and draws on his experiences as a park ranger. Among his best-known works are The Brave Cowboy (1956), The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975), and The Fool's Progress (1988). In 1966 The Brave Cowboy was made into a movie titled Lonely Are the Brave, starring Kirk Douglas. Two collections of essays have been published since his death in 1989: Confessions of a Barbarian in 1994 and The Serpents of Paradise the following year. In 1987, Abbey was offered the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, but he declined. Abbey died in March 1989, near Tucson, Arizona, from complications following surgery. He did not want a traditional burial but rather requested to be buried in the Arizona desert, where he could nourish the earth which had been the subject of so many of his works.
A high school dropout at age 16, Carolyn Chute has been described as a shy, genial woman with idiosyncratic political views. Almost immediately after dropping out of school, Chute married and had a daughter. After the marriage ended in divorce, Chute held a variety of low-paying jobs, including driving a school bus, working on a potato farm, and plucking chickens to support herself and her child. In 1978, Chute completed high school and began taking classes at the University of Maine. While attending college, Chute started writing stories, and eventually had her work published in area magazines. Chute's first novel, The Beans of Egypt, Maine, published in 1986, details what it was like growing up in a poverty-stricken town. The characters and setting of her successful first novel were continued in Letourneau's Used Auto Parts (1988) and Merry Men (1994). A member of the 2nd Maine Militia, Chute is lobbying for several causes. Among the causes are limiting campaign contributions to $100 per citizen, extending the right of free speech and assembly to work-sites and shopping malls, banning lobbyists from the political process, and limiting the number of newspapers or magazines that can be owned by any single corporation to one.
Wendell Berry The prolific poet, novelist, and essayist Wendell Berry is a fifth-generation native of north central Kentucky. Berry taught at Stanford University; traveled to Italy and France on a Guggenheim Fellowship; and taught at New York University and the University of Kentucky, Lexington, before moving to Henry County. Berry owns and operates Lanes Landing Farm, a small, hilly piece of property on the Kentucky River. He embraced full-time farming as a career, using horses and organic methods to tend the land. Harmony with nature in general, and the farming tradition in particular, is a central theme of Berry's diverse work. As a poet, Berry gained popularity within the literary community. Collected Poems, 1957-1982, was particularly well-received. Novels and short stories set in Port William, a fictional town paralleling his real-life home town of Port Royal further established his literary reputation. The Memory of Old Jack, Berry's third novel, received Chicago's Friends of American Writers Award for 1975. Berry reached his broadest audience and attained his greatest popular acclaim through his essays. The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture is a springboard for contemporary environmental concerns. In his life as well as his art, Berry has advocated a responsible, contextual relationship with individuals in a local, agrarian economy.
Born 1945 as Annie Doak, in Pittsburgh, Pa., Dillard has lived in Bellingham, Wash. and the San Juan Islands of the Pacific Northwest. She received a B.A and an M.A. in English (1968) from Hollins College. She has been adjunct professor of English and Writer in Residence at Wesleyan University and a columnist for the Wilderness Society. Her involvement with nature is reflected in many of her works including Mornings Like This, The Living, Teaching a Stone to Talk, and the 1975 Pulitzer Prize winning Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Her work also has appeared in such periodicals as The Atlantic, Harper's, and The Christian Science Monitor. She has received grants from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.