Rachel Carson was a writer, marine biologist and conservationist who wrote novels advancing the global environmental movement. She is best known for Silent Spring, a novel highlighting the negative effects of pesticides.
Carson was born in Springdale, a borough of Allegheny County, to a modest family and took up reading as a childhood hobby. She later attended what is now Chatham University to originally study English, but switched to biology. Her performance gained her undergraduate admittance to John Hopkins University but was unable to attend for financial reasons; she did attend John Hopkins for graduate school. After graduation, she secured a position at the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries where she generated public interest in fish biology.
In the late 1930's, Carson began writing short articles for publications like Atlantic Monthly and The Baltimore Sun. She was now the sole breadwinner for her mother and two nieces due to her elder sister's passing. Publishing house Simon & Schuster contacted Carson in the hopes of expanding her article, “Undersea” which was rewritten into the novel, Under the Sea-wind. In 1951 she published The Sea Around Us while the republication of Under the Sea Wind helped it become a bestseller. She soon met and befriended Dorothy Freeman, a neighbor who had read Carson's acclaimed novel, and the two created a friendship that lasted throughout their lives.
Carson transitioned to conservation-based work in the 1950's, growing interested in pesticide use, and published the controversial Silent Springs in 1962. The book caused strife with the USDA's Agricultural Research Service and was heavily criticized upon release, but the negative response died down after a year and many came to back her scientific claims. She received several awards for her work in the field, including Audubon and Cullum medals. Carson fought breast cancer in her later life but passed away in 1964 due to a heart attack. She continues to be awarded and celebrated by peers and the public.