The Story of my Boyhood and Youth: An early years biography of a pioneering environmentalist
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.
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About the Author
John Muir was an early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States and founder of The Sierra Club.