Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson
Marine Biologist
Specialty Marine biology, writing, and environmentalism
Born May 27, 1907
Springdale, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died Apr. 14, 1964 (at age 56)
Silver Spring, Maryland, U.S.
Nationality American

Rachel Carson was a famous American marine biologist and conservationist. She is famous for her book Silent Spring and many other writings that have played a great role in advancing the global environmental movement. She started her career as aquatic biologist and later became a full-time writer. Her 1951 bestseller entitled The Sea Around Us managed to win her a U.S. National Book Award.

Early Life

Rachel was born on May 27, 1907. She was born into a small family just next to Springdale in Pennsylvania. As a young girl, she spent most of her time exploring her father’s farm. She started writing stories that mostly involved animals at an early age of 8 years. Her story was published when she was 11 years. She enjoyed reading St. Nicholas Magazine and other novels of Gene Porter. She was particularly interested in the natural world and the ocean.

Educational Years

Rachel Carson attended Springdale school until the tenth grade. She completed high school in Parnassus and graduated in 1925 at the top of her class. She attended Pennsylvania College for Women. At first, she studied English, but she later switched to biology in 1928. She also continued to contribute to the school’s newspaper. She attended a summer course at Marine Biological Laboratory and then continued her studies in genetics and zoology at Johns Hopkins in 1929.

After graduating from her first school, she became a part-time student. She worked at Raymond Pearls laboratory to earn money for her tuition. In June 1932, she earned her master’s degree in zoology. Rachel also wanted to continue her doctorate, but in 1934, she was forced to leave Hopkins to get a full-time job and support her family. She lost her father in 1935. The death of her father left Rachel as the sole provider of her aging mother.

Rachel started submitting articles about marine life in Chesapeake Bay to local magazines and newspapers. Her supervisor was pleased with her success. She asked her to write a public brochure about fisheries bureau. In 1936, she became the second woman to be hired by Bureau of Fisheries for a full-time professional position as a junior aquatic biologist.

Career Beginnings

While working at the U.S Bureau of Fisheries, Carson had the responsibilities of analyzing and reporting field data on the fish populations, writing brochures and writing other literature for the public. With the help of her research, she wrote a stream of articles for several newspapers such as the Baltimore Sun. After several years, she published Under the Sea Wind in 1941. This received great reviews although the sales were poor.

Rachel was able to rise within the Fish and Wildlife Service. By 1945, she was already supervising a writing staff and in 1949, she became chief editor of publications. By 1948, she was working on her second book. Oxford University Press expressed interest in working with Carson. This motivated her to complete The Sea Around Us by 1950.

Writing Successes

Different chapters appeared in the Yale Review and Science Digest. The book continued to be in the list of New York Times Best Seller list for about 86 weeks. She was even awarded two honorary doctorates and one national award. She also licensed a documentary film based on the book. All these gave Rachel great success and financial security. She was even able to quit her job in 1952 to be a full-time writer.

In 1955, Rachel Carson published Edge of the Sea. This book did very well; it appeared on the best seller list for about 20 weeks surpassing her previous book. In 1962, she published another book called Silent Spring, which she researched for more than four years. This book documented the many dangers of herbicides and pesticides. Rachel was able to show the long-lasting presence of dangerous toxic chemicals in water and land. She also showed the presence of DDT in mother’s milk and the threat to different creatures such as songbirds.

Carson’s Later Life

In 1963, CBS produced a television special featuring Carson and opponents of her conclusions. The US even opened an investigation of different pesticides. Rachel Carson died in 1964 as a result of cancer. After her death, a book she had written called Sense of Wonder was published. Several other books have been written about her.

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