John Burroughs

John Burroughs
John Burroughs (1837-1921)
   One of America's greatest nature writers was John Burroughs. He delighted in exploring the quiet world of nature and then sharing his appreciation and knowledge with others through his lyrical prose.

   Born on April 3,1837, John Burroughs was one of ten children. His youth was spent on a small family farm near Roxbury, New York. It was there that he began his lifelong study of nature as he tramped along the untamed Rock Creek, observing the flowers and ani­mals around him.

   At various times in his life, Burroughs was a teacher, treasury clerk, and bank examiner. But it was as a naturalist and author that he became well known. Burroughs began his publishing career by contributing essays to the Atlantic Monthly and other magazines. A biography of his close friend Walt Whitman, Notes on Walt Whitman as Poet and Person (1867), was his first book to be published.

   Never comfortable with the clamor and noise of city lite, Burroughs made his home in the Catskill Mountains. "Where cattle and woodchuck thrive, there thrive I," he once wrote. For much of the time, he lived in a log house, called Slabsides. As he gained recognition for his work, friends and important men of his day came to visit "the Sage of Slabsides."

   During his long life, Burroughs completed 27 books. They include Wake-Robin (1871), Winter Sunshine (1875), Fresh Fielas (1884), Signs and Seasons (1886), Ways of Nature (1905), and The Breath of Life (1915). He also received honorary degrees from several universities and was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

   John Burroughs died on March 29, 1921. Each year in his honor, the John Burroughs Society presents awards for outstanding na­ture essays and books for young people and adults.