Born on August 5, 1934, Wendell Berry is a well known and highly respected 82-year old novelist, environmental activist and poet. He also has made his impression in the field of farming and also as a cultural critic. He is certainly a prolific writer and has written a number of short stories, poems, novels and also essays on a variety of subjects. He has over the last few decades been able to leave behind a rich treasure of writings which according to critics will continue to inspire and interest generations of readers for many decades to come. It would also be pertinent to mention here that Berry has rightly and deservingly become a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. He also is the recipient of the famous National Humanities Medal. Additionally he also was the Jefferson Lecturer in the year 2012. Additionally he also was the 2013 Fellow of The American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Hence it would not be out of place to mention here that his talent has been recognized far and wide. He is the first writer who was inducted in to the famous Kentucky Writers Hall Of Fame and this award was presented to him in the year 2015. The Richard C Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award was also presented to him in the year 2013.
His Early Life
Berry was the eldest of four children of J. M. Berry who was a tobacco farmer and lawyer in Henry County, Kentucky. His mother’s name was Virginia Erdman Berry. After his primary and high schooling, Wendell Berry got his B.A and M.A degrees in English from the University Of Kentucky. In 1956 he met Gurney Norman who also would become a writer over a period of time. He got married to Tanya Amyx in the year 1958. His first novel was published in the year 1960 and it was named Nathan Couiter. This was the starting of the journey of Berry, as a writer. Help came from many quarters for this budding writer and author. With the help John Simon Guggenhelm Memorial Foundation Fellowship Berry was able to move to Italy and France along with his family.
In these two countries he was referred by his pen name Wallace Fowlie. He took an active part as a translator and critic of French literature. He spent the year 1962 to 1964 as an English professor in New York University at their University College in Bronx. During these years started honing his writing skills apart from developing their faming skills in a farm which he purchased. He has had a very wide and highly successful writing career and during the 1970s and early 1980s. He wrote for the Rodale Press which included writings and editing for its publications named Organic Gardening And Farming and also The New Form. This was because of his attachment and liking for farming in general and preservation of the environment in particular.
Books Written By Berry
Berry has written more than forty books covering fiction, poetry and essays. The list is quite big and it certainly would not be possible to list down the name of each and every book. However, he had a distinct and unique style of writing and touch based on subject matters which are of concern to us as far as our day to day existence and survival is concerned. Many of his books espouse a strong cause for environmental protection and preserving the diversity of flora and fauna across the globe. It also would be pertinent to mention that he has taken part in many movements against activities which perhaps are detrimental to the cause of preserving of our environment. These thoughts find strong reference in his fictions, poems and essays. We will have a look at two such books from the big list of books which he has written.
Andy Catlett: Early Travels
This book is a part of his Port William Series and is centered round a character called Any Catlett. He is seen visiting a place where he has been many times before. Andy is a nine year old lad and therefore the trip for him is an adventure and he is very serious about it. He strongly believes that this trip will be a learning experience and perhaps will take him to the first stage of transformation from childhood to adulthood. The entire book is written against the backdrop of the Christmas season of 1943, and his experiences and learning during this trip have been well brought out in this book. The book wonderfully brings out the way in which the old is giving way to the new. The books moves on and Andy become an adult and looks back poignantly over the years which he spent visiting this new place. Superbly written, there is hardly any doubt that this is one of the best books of Wendell Berry.
This is another wonderful book of Berry and it revolves around a mouse which is famous for its elegant whiskers and the reddish tan skin. She is happy living in the edge of a wood and for her this is well and truly the center of the world round which she survives and moves from one day to another. However, she is unaware of the fact that not very far from her house is a big river. It is so big that she as a rat is not able to fathom its size and magnitude. A flash of flood one day uproots her from her house and she is thrust into a world of adventure. She has to use all her skills at her disposal to survive and stay alive. It is a superb depiction of survival against all odds and the fact that it comes with original drawings by famous artist Davis Te Selle makes it even more interesting and unputdownable to say the least.
The above are just two of the many books of Berry. Each of his books is unique and different from the others and deals at different aspects of life. His poetries and essays are also amazingly well written and make very interesting reading to say the least.Book Series In Order » Authors » Wendell Berry