WRITING WILD

“From Henry David Thoreau to Wallace Stegner to Edward Abbey, male nature writers occupy a great deal of space in the environmental literary canon. But in her book, Writing Wild, Kathryn Aalto offers another perspective to the genre.”

                                                                                    —  The Nature Conservancy

Writing Wild — part travel essay, literary biography, and cultural history — is a lively first-person narrative anthology celebrating the impact of women on nature writing over two hundred years. The inspiring wordsmiths profiled by Kathryn Aalto are gardeners, scholars, spiritual seekers, conservationists, scientists, novelists, and explorers. They all defy easy categorization, yet share a bold authenticity that makes their writing distinct and universal.

This book has been adapted into an acclaimed narrative designed for speakers’ series at botanical gardens, museums, libraries, universities, and garden clubs. A lively and intelligent portrait of women and nature in the wider changing culture, like other talks by Kathryn Aalto, Writing Wild is visually rich with a soundscape that transports people to different worlds. The journey begins with a climb up England’s tallest mountain following in the 1818 footsteps of Dorothy Wordsworth, the lesser-known diarist, poet, and inspirational sister of William Wordsworth. Moving to America where Susan Fenimore Cooper, America’s first nature writer, lived and wrote, audiences learn about barriers that “dame scribblers” faced in nineteenth-century publishing.

The talk expands to the 20th- and 21st-centuries to explore the lives, literature, landscapes, and legacies of other lesser-known pioneering writers as well as icons such as scientist Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring; Leslie Marmon Silko, America’s first Native American novelist; Gene Stratton-Porter who sold more than 55 million nature novels and nature studies in her lifetime; ethnographer and feminist writer Mary Austin, after whom a mountain is named in California; Vita Sackville-West, the gender-bending sapphic rebel and garden designer; and Camille T. Dungy, poet, author, and editor of Black Nature.  Many others include Nan Shepherd, Mary Oliver, Carolyn Merchant, and Annie Dillard; Gretel Ehrlich, Diane Ackerman, Robin Wall Kimmerer, and Lauret Savoy;  Rebecca Solnit, Kathleen Jamie, Carolyn Finney, Helen Macdonald, and Saci Lloyd; Andrea Wulf, Elena Passarello, Amy Liptrot, and Elizabeth Rush.

This hour-long talk is educational, entertaining, and a reminder of the diverse ways people sense and experience the natural world. 

To book this talk, contact gardens@kathrynaalto.com

 

“An amazing, rich resource that rises above visions of conquest and domination to reveal the possibility of meeting eye-to-eye with wildness, and of being broken open and changed.” —Foreword

“This book is a wonderful jumping-off point for anyone who loves the outdoors and wants to know more about the many talented female writers who have made it their work’s focus.” —BookPage

“A fantastic resource for readers looking to grow their TBR piles.” —The Los Angeles Times

“Exciting, inspiring, intimidating, and bold.” —San Francisco Book Review
 
“A luminous collection of mini-biographies of female nature writers past and present. Beautifully illustrated by Gisela Goppel, Aalto’s book champions historical figures like Rachel Carson and Vita Sackville-West, and contemporary writers like Rebecca Solnit and Robin Wall Kimmerer. She makes a point of including Indigenous and Black female authors, ending each chapter with a list of (even) further reading to explore.” —Shelf Awareness

“A heartening book, granting attention to women who dared to write and ramble wild.” —BBC Countryfile

“This fine and thoughtful book puts these remarkable women writers right smack bang in to focus where they belong—as key shapers of how we see the natural world.” —James Rebanks, author of The Shepherd’s Life