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Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Writing for Nature and the World

“For anything worth having one must pay the price; and the price is always work, patience, love, self-sacrifice - no paper currency, no promises to pay, but the gold of real service.”—John Burroughs

Born into a New York farm family (in upstate New York) on this date in 1837, Burroughs was a naturalist and writer who called himself – "a literary naturalist with a duty to record perceptions of the natural world.”
While he loved farming, he wanted to explore and study nature more and left the farm to teach elementary school at age 17 so that he could earn money to fund a college education in that field.  By his early 20s he was already living in the wild and writing about his experiences.  His first break as a writer came in 1860 when the Atlantic Monthly, then a fairly new publication, accepted his essay Expression.

From then until his death in 1921, Burroughs wrote hundreds of essays and some two dozen books on the natural world and the people who lived and worked in it.  Among his lasting works are books on Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John David Muir and Camping and Tramping With Theodore Roosevelt, written during Roosevelt’s second term when Burroughs often accompanied the President on his trips into America’s wilderness. 
                                    Burroughs’ impact as a writer about the natural world was honored just before his death when he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. “Without the emotion of the beautiful, the sublime, the mysterious, there is no art, no religion, no literature,” he said in his acceptance.  Near the end of his life, he wrote wistfully, “I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.”
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