Meet Rachel Carson: The Famous Marine Biologist And Nature Writer

Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson is a world-renowned marine biologist and nature writer whose book formed the basis of the current environmental movement. Carson was born and raised in Pennsylvania. She grew up near the Allegheny River. Her family had a 65-acre farm, thus most of her childhood was spent exploring the forests and streams nearby. The nature surrounding her hillside home and love for writing were the two pleasures that took away all of her days while growing up. At 10, she got published first time in a children’s magazine.

She has been credited with awakening the concern of Americans for the environmental deterioration being caused drastically by humans. Here’s is why you should know more about this nature-enthusiast.

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Rachel attended the Pennsylvania College for Women, now known as Chatham University and graduated magna cum laude in 1929. She started as an English major to become a writer but switched to biology midway. She did a summer fellowship at the US Marine Laboratory that piqued her interest in the oceans. Carson was then offered a scholarship to complete her graduate work in biology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. At a time when women across the globe were subject to prejudices, this scholarship was a great accomplishment. She could not, however, pursue a doctorate due to the worsening financial conditions of her family.


She won a part-time position with the US Bureau of Fisheries in 1935 where she was given the job of creating radio programs on marine life called “Romance Under the Waters”. She kept submitting articles to established newspapers and magazines that regularly published her work. In 1936, she outperformed all the candidates in the civil services exam to be appointed as a junior aquatic biologist at the Bureau. She carried out extensive research about marine life and people around the sea as a part of her job. In 1943, Carson was promoted to the position of aquatic biologist in the newly created US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Books and Publications

Under the Sea-Wind was Carson’s first book that was published in 1941. She could pique readers’ interest by presenting deeply intricate scientific work in a poetic manner and this ultimately became her style. She authored numerous bulletins, Conservation in Action and Food from the Sea being two of the most famous ones. Her second book, The Sea Around Us was published in 1951 and was translated in 32 languages. It was on the New York Times’ bestseller list for 81 weeks. The success of the book persuaded her to pursue writing fulltime. In 1955, she published The Edge of the Sea, another popular seller.

The gamechanger

A letter from a friend in Duxbury, Massachusetts about the endangered birdlife due to pesticide spraying motivated Rachel to write the most famous book of her career, Silent Spring. The book primarily focuses on pesticides’ effects on ecosystems, but four chapters detail their impact on humans, including cancer. She highlighted the need to use pesticides in a regulated manner and discover alternatives to harmful chemicals like DDT. The pesticide industry mounted a massive campaign to discredit Carson. The federal government, however, ordered a complete review of its pesticide policy and Carson was asked to testify before a Congressional committee along with other witnesses. As a direct result of the study, DDT was banned.

Awards and Legacy

She won a National Book Award, a national science writing-prize and a Guggenheim grant for The Sea Around Us. In 1980, she was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Fish and Wildlife Service named one of its refuges near Carson’s summer home on the coast of Maine as the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in 1969 to honour the American genius.

In a television interview, Rachel Carson once stated that “man’s endeavors to control nature by his powers to alter and to destroy would inevitably evolve into a war against himself, a war he would lose unless he came to terms with nature.”

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Saavriti is an intern with SheThePeople.TV