The Story of my Boyhood and Youth: An early years biography of a pioneering environmentalist

John Muir (Author) Gifford Terry (Foreword by)


The Story of my Boyhood and Youth is the affecting memoir of the now internationally renowned John Muir, a Scottish-American boy subject to a most unusual upbringing, his transition into adulthood, and the path that led him to petition for the concept of protected national parks.

Born in East Lothian, Scotland in 1838, Muir was raised by a fanatically strict, religious father with his numerous brothers and sisters and loving mother. From an early age, a shy Muir showed fascination with the natural world, and at aged eleven, his father announced the family were to move to an American wilderness in Wisconsin - Muir had a new playground.

His adolescence is spent labouring on the family's grassroots farm. Working seventeen-hour days, an exhausted yet inquisitive Muir desperately snatches moments to himself, yearning to explore the environment around him, secretly studying books on topics other than religion, and rising at 1 a.m. to pursue his hobby of inventing intricate time and energy-saving devices - much to his father's disapproval and everyone else's admiration.

At age twenty-two, Muir takes it upon himself to apply to university, and does so without financial or moral support from his father. He makes his way to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to study chemistry and botany, and though never graduating with a degree, he is satisfied that he had learned all he wanted to there, before completing the rest of his nature education in 'the university of the wilderness'.

The Story of my Boyhood and Youth includes a new foreword by Terry Gifford, and offers insight into the development of Muir's spiritual connection with the natural world, and suggests an explanation for his passion for freedom in the wilderness, a stark contrast to the forced rigidity of his early years.

Product Details

Vertebrate Publishing
Publish Date
October 11, 2018
6.14 X 0.23 X 9.21 inches | 0.37 pounds

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About the Author

John Muir (1838-1914) was a naturalist, author, environmental activist, and one of the earliest advocates for the preservation and protection of wilderness lands in the United States. Thanks to Muir's relentless activism, some of California's most beloved national parks have been protected and maintained throughout the years, including Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park, and much of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Muir also founded the Sierra Club in 1892, an influential environmental organization still in existence today. A prolific writer, Muir used his talents of rhetorical persuasion to help enact other key legislation that was integral to the preservation of natural resources throughout our land.

Terry Gifford ​is a rock climber, author and editor of poetry and academic ​book​s on the subject of ​literature and ​the environment, with titles including The Joy of Climbing, The Rope, ​Pastoral ​and​ the complete works of John Muir in two volumes: John Muir: The Eight Wilderness-Discovery Books and John Muir: His Life and Letters and Other Writings. He ​was founding​ director of the annual International Festival of Mountaineering Literature for twenty-one years, and is former ​c​hair of the Mountain Heritage Trust. Today he is ​v​isiting ​scholar at Bath Spa University's Centre for Writing and Environment and ​p​rofessor ​h​onorifico at the University of Alicante in Spain.