Rachel Carson at the Edge of the Atlantic

Before Rachel Carson wrote about the environmental dangers of pesticides in her 1962 book Silent Spring, she wrote several popular science books about the sea.

Rachel Carson with Bob Hines, Atlantic Ocean

Rachel Carson with Bob Hines, Atlantic Ocean

The photo above shows Carson with Bob Hines researching the third book in her ocean trilogy, The Edge of the Sea.

Her other two ocean books were Under the Sea Wind and The Sea Around Us. Together, they formed a biography of the ocean and made her famous as a naturalist and science writer for the public.

Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson was born on May 27, 1907 in Springdale, Pa. After she graduated from Chatham University (then Pennsylvania College for Woman), she studied at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, and in 1932 received her M.A. in zoology from Johns Hopkins University.

She spent the next 15 years working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, supplementing her income by writing natural history articles for the Baltimore Sun and The Atlantic.

The popularity of her books allowed her to quit government service and devote herself full-time to writing. In 1953, Rachel Carson moved to Southport Island, Maine, with her mother. Though she later moved back to Washington, she continued to spend summers in Maine.

She turned her attention to warning the public about the long-term dangers of pesticides, challenging the government and agricultural practice. Silent Spring created an outcry against the use of DDT. The chemical industry attacked her, but DDT was banned nationwide in 1972. The ban then allowed the return of two endangered birds: the bald eagle and the peregrine falcon.

She died on April 14, 1964, of a heart attack during her fight with breast cancer.

In 1969, the Coastal Maine National Wildlife Refuge became the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge.

This story was updated in 2022.

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