cover image John Burroughs: An American Naturalist

John Burroughs: An American Naturalist

Edward J. Renehan, Jr.. Chelsea Green Publishing Company, $24.95 (368pp) ISBN 978-0-930031-59-6

Through his essays in books and popular magazines, John Burroughs (1851-1921) taught countless Americans to appreciate nature. In this, the first comprehensive biography of him to be published since 1925, Renehan draws on original sources to portray Burroughs as the boy from a poor farming family in the Catskills who as a man hobnobbed with such eminent figures as Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford and Theodore Roosevelt. In 1863, after teaching in rural schools, Burroughs and his wife Ursula moved to Washington, D.C., where Walt Whitman encouraged the younger man's literary efforts. Theirs was an enduring friendship; Burroughs defended Whitman's poetry and wrote the first biography of him. Renehan traces his subject's unhappy marriage and his return to a farm in the Catskills. He chronicles Burroughs's growing fame, his friendships with other writers and his liaison with Clara Barrus, who became his literary executor. Renehan, editor of A River View , has restored Burroughs to a well-deserved place in American literature and conservation. Photos. Reader's Subscription alternate. (Nov.)