Edward Abbey was a 20th-century American environmentalist and a writer. His main focus was the desert. He wrote about its wonders and how it was being destroyed as society developed. He also had a major
influence on several important environmental groups.
Born in Home, Pennsylvania in 1927, Abbey grew up on his father's farm. He attended the University of New Mexico and received his B.A. there in 1951. He went on to earn a Master's degree five years later.Abbey then joined the National Park Service as a
park ranger and fire fighter. While he worked there, he allegedly did not agree with some of the Service's activities and set about to undermine them. Later on, he worked at the University of Arizona, teaching and writing.
Abbey authored a variety of works throughout his career. He wrote a number of informative pieces of nonfiction, including Down the River, in 1982. But his style was noticeably angrier in some of his fictional works, such as The Monkey Wrench Gang and
Hayduke Lives! In all of his works, Abbey impressed upon his readers the severity of the destruction of the deserts which he loved so much.
Abbey was an influence on other leading environmentalists, such as Dave Foreman and his fellow members of Earth First! Inspired by Abbey, these activists set about "monkey-wrenching" and practicing "ecotage." Both terms were derived from Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang, where a group of
"ecoteurs" defends the western deserts against development and destruction. Although many other environmentalists do not agree with such strong tactics, more radical environment groups frequently hold Abbey's ideas sacred.
In recognition of Abbey's works, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society named an ocean-gong vessel the Edward Abbey. This ocean-going ship does damage to whaling and drift-net fishing vessels that operate illegally.
Edward Abbey died of internal bleeding on March 14, 1989 and was buried in a desert in the southwestern United States.
Edward Abbey quote database