Always, Rachel: The Letters of Rachel Carson and Dorothy Freeman, 1952-1964 - The Story of a Remarkable Friendship

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Rachel Carson's landmark book Silent Spring set the modern environmental movement in motion.This very special collection of letters from Rachel Carson to her Maine summer neighbor Dorothy Freeman offers an intimate, spellbinding look at Carson's private life and thoughts.

An intimate collection of letters from the woman who sparked the modern environmental movement.

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Overview

Rachel Carson's landmark book Silent Spring set the modern environmental movement in motion.This very special collection of letters from Rachel Carson to her Maine summer neighbor Dorothy Freeman offers an intimate, spellbinding look at Carson's private life and thoughts.

An intimate collection of letters from the woman who sparked the modern environmental movement.

"What is revealed in this selection of letters is the extraordinary, private person of Carson and her relationship with Freeman, the nature-loving, homebody friend of her later years. . . . It is not often that a collection of letters reveals character, emotional depth, personality, indeed intellect and talent, as well as a full biography might; these letters do all that."
-Doris Grumbach, The New York Times Book Review

Rachel Carson's landmark book Silent Spring set the modern environmental movement in motion. Now, this very special collection of letters from Rachel Carson to her Maine summer neighbor Dorothy Freeman offers an intimate, spellbinding look at Carson's private life and thought.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
Rachel Carson (1907-1964), author of The Silent Spring, has been celebrated as the pioneer of the modern environmental movement. Although she wrote no autobiography, she did leave letters, and those she exchanged-sometimes daily-with Dorothy Freeman, some 750 of which are collected here, are perhaps more satisfying than an account of her own life. In 1953, Carson became Freeman's summer neighbor on Southport Island, Me. The two discovered a shared love for the natural world-their descriptions of the arrival of spring or the song of a hermit thrush are lyrical-but their friendship quickly blossomed, as each realized she had found in the other a kindred spirit. To read this collection is like eavesdropping on an extended conversation that mixes the mundane events of the two women's family lives with details of Carson's research and writing and, later, her breast cancer. Readers will inevitably wonder about the nature of the women's relationship; editor Martha Freeman, Dorothy's granddaughter, believes that the correspondents' initial caution regarding the frankly romantic tone of their letters led them to destroy some. Whether the relationship was sexual, theirs was a deeply loving friendship, and reading their letters leaves a sense of wonder that they felt so free to give themselves this gift. "Never forget, dear one, how deeply I have loved you all these years," Carson wrote less than a year before her death. And if, as Carson believed, "immortality through memory is real," few who read these letters will forget these remarkable women and their even more remarkable bond. Photos.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Rachel Carson (1907-1964), author of The Silent Spring, has been celebrated as the pioneer of the modern environmental movement. Although she wrote no autobiography, she did leave letters, and those she exchanged-sometimes daily-with Dorothy Freeman, some 750 of which are collected here, are perhaps more satisfying than an account of her own life. In 1953, Carson became Freeman's summer neighbor on Southport Island, Me. The two discovered a shared love for the natural world-their descriptions of the arrival of spring or the song of a hermit thrush are lyrical-but their friendship quickly blossomed, as each realized she had found in the other a kindred spirit. To read this collection is like eavesdropping on an extended conversation that mixes the mundane events of the two women's family lives with details of Carson's research and writing and, later, her breast cancer. Readers will inevitably wonder about the nature of the women's relationship; editor Martha Freeman, Dorothy's granddaughter, believes that the correspondents' initial caution regarding the frankly romantic tone of their letters led them to destroy some. Whether the relationship was sexual, theirs was a deeply loving friendship, and reading their letters leaves a sense of wonder that they felt so free to give themselves this gift. ``Never forget, dear one, how deeply I have loved you all these years,'' Carson wrote less than a year before her death. And if, as Carson believed, ``immortality through memory is real,'' few who read these letters will forget these remarkable women and their even more remarkable bond. Photos. 25,000 first printing. (Mar.)
Library Journal
In 1952, after publishing The Sea Around Us, Carson struck up a unique friendship with Freeman that was to sustain both women until Carson's death in 1964. Although both were prolific letter writers, Carson's letters predominate here. Many of Freeman's letters and a fair number of Carson's may have been deliberately destroyed by mutual consent. Evidently, the two women were uneasy about their content being misinterpreted. The letters display an unusual intensity of feeling, which could easily lead outsiders to an assumption of a homosexual relationship were it not also clear that Freeman's husband and son and Carson's family particpated in and supported this friendship. Editor Martha Freeman, Dorothy's granddaughter, provides valuable footnotes explaining references to people and events in the letters unfamiliar to readers. These notes are set in the outside page margins, alongside the related text of the letters, a feature readers will find enormously helpful. This correspondence provides insight into the creative process and a look into the daily lives of two intelligent, perceptive women whose family responsibilities were, at times, almost crushing. Carson's crowning achievement, Silent Spring, seems all the more significant for having been accomplished while she was struggling with the side effects of cancer treatment. An important book for academic libraries and those public libraries where readers interested in ecology continue to appreciate the beauty and power of Carson's books.-Laurie Tynan, Montgomery-Norristown P.L., Pa.
Mary Carroll
"The Sea Around Us" (1951) and "Silent Spring" (1962) made Carson an international celebrity, but, despite several biographies, details of her life remain relatively unknown. "Always, Rachel" offers insights into this seminal figure in the growth of U.S. and global concern for the environment through the 12-year correspondence between Carson and Dorothy Freeman, the beloved woman friend Carson met when she built a cottage on Maine's Southport Island in the early 1950s. Carson, 46 and single, had demanding family responsibilities. Freeman, 55 and a grandmother, hoped one day to write for publication herself. The Carson-Freeman letters, lightly edited by Freeman's granddaughter, shed light on Carson's creative process, her family burdens, and the devastating illnesses that interrupted but could not forestall her work on "Silent Spring"; they also capture the bond of love and mutual support both women experienced in their friendship. Dotted with vivid observations of the natural world and perceptive commentary on friendship, family, fame, and life itself, "Always, Rachel" will appeal to readers interested in biography and women's studies as well as those drawn to nature writing and the history of the environmental movement
Booknews
The first writing by Carson printed since Silent Spring in 1962 (the book credited with sparking the ecology movement in America), this collection is the only significant autobiographical writing presently available on Carson. The previously unpublished letters between Carson and her most intimate friend (whose daughter co-compiled this collection) document the two women's remarkable friendship, begun on the shores of Southport Island, Maine in 1952, as well as Carson's grace, strength, and the little-known personal burdens she faced. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Doris Grunbech
It is not often that a collection of letters reveal character, emotional depth, personality, and deep intellect and talent, as well as the full biography might; these letters do all that.
New York Times Book Review
H Patricia Hynes
Perhaps the finest element of these letters is the presence and proof of a great love and a passionate friendship whose power inspired a lyricism equal to the literary beauty of [Carson's] nature writing.
Boston Globe
Anita S. Manning
Open the window into Carson's character, her work as a scientist…the illness that ended her life and her loving friendship with another woman.
USA Today
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807070109
  • Publisher: Beacon
  • Publication date: 2/1/1994
  • Pages: 640
  • Product dimensions: 6.70 (w) x 9.68 (h) x 1.69 (d)

Meet the Author

Rachel Carson (1907–1964) spent most of her professional life as a marine biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. By the late 1950s, she had written three lyrical, popular books about the sea, including the best-selling The Sea Around Us, and had become the most respected science writer in America. She completed Silent Spring against formidable personal odds, and with it shaped a powerful social movement that has altered the course of history.
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