- Rachel Carson was born in 1907 on a small farm in Springdale, Pennsylvania. From early childhood, Rachel loved nature, something she learned from her mother.
- Rachel also loved reading. Her favorite stories included those by Beatrix Potter and Gene Stratton-Porter.
- The young girl started writing stories when she was eight and had her first story published in a magazine when she was ten years old.
- Rachel studied English at the Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chattham), but switched to biology. She wrote for the school newspaper throughout her college experience.
- She got a masters degree in zoology at Johns Hopkins University in 1932. She planned to pursue a doctorate degree, but dropped out and took a teaching job to support her family during the Great Depression.
- In 1935, after her father died, Rachel took a job with the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries writing radio shows on ocean life. People liked her shows because they were interesting. She was soon asked to write other things.
- Rachel continued to write for the bureau for thirteen more years. In 1948, she began writing The Sea Around Us. It was an instant bestseller and Rachel was able to leave the bureau to write full-time.
- Rachel continued writing books and articles while she cared for her mother. She also raised a child, the son of a niece who died.
- In 1964, Rachel published the book Silent Spring. After World War II, people began spraying DDT and other pesticides widely. Rachel and other scientists were concerned that these chemicals were killing birds, fish, and amphibians, and could be harmful to humans too.
- Many people were angry and disagreed with Rachel’s book, but Rachel kept speaking up about her concerns.
Bestseller: a popular book that sells many copies
Pesticide: a chemical designed to kill pests, usually insects
Questions and Answers
Question: How did Rachel respond to people who were angry?
Answer: Rachel was a quiet, introverted person. She didn’t like being the center of attention and she didn’t like conflict. She was also very ill with cancer when the book was published. She had little energy to fight with people.
But she kept writing and offering the scientific evidence behind her work. Today she is remembered as the founder of the modern environmental movement.
Watch a video about Rachel Carson’s work.