"It's a fools life, a rogue's life, and a good
life if you keep laughing all the way to the grave."
Edward Abbey was born in the town of Indiana, Pennsylvania on
January 29, 1927. He grew up around the nearby village of Home,
which now has a state historical
marker commemorating Abbey.
After a brief military career 1945-1947 in Naples, Italy he
University of Pennsylvania. through 1947 and worked a while.
In 1944 at age 17 he left the family farm in Home and set off
to see the American West. He hitchhiked and rode the rails -
across the Midwest to the Rockies and the West Coast, returning
by way of the Southwest. He fell in love with the desert, a love
that shaped his life and art for more than 40 years.
He entered the University
of New Mexico, with a one-year stint at the University of
Edinburgh in Scotland. His master's thesis at New Mexico was
on "Anarchism and the Morality of Violence." He
received graduate and postgraduate degrees from UNM. He entered
another graduate program at Yale, but hated the strictures of the Ivy
League and dropped out after two weeks.
He also lived in Hoboken and worked in Brooklyn as a welfare
caseworker for some time.
For 15 years and well into his forties, he worked as a
part-time ranger and fire lookout at several different national
parks, his two seasons as a ranger at Arches National Monument
(later a national park) in Utah providing the inspiration and raw
material for Desert Solitaire.
He married and divorced four times, and married his final wife
In 1987, Edward Abbey was offered a major award by the
American Academy of Arts and Letters. Abbey declined the honor;
he had plans to run a river in Idaho the week of the award
For a more complete biography, please read the transcript for the video documentary Edward Abbey: A Voice in the Wilderness.