A Utah native, Terry Tempest Williams is celebrated for her natural history writing. Her intimate connection with nature is expressed through her representation of the Utah wilderness. Williams grew up near the Great Salt Lake and is the sixth generation of a Mormon family whose men have laid pipes in the state's earth. Her religion is as much a part of her work as her womanhood and her location; the Mormon faith is responsible for incorporating respect for the land and community with respect for God. The author's connection with Utah is so great that it pains her to leave home in order to make public appearances.
One of Terry's most well known books, REFUGE, describes the rising level of the Great Salt Lake and the destruction of bird habitat as a backdrop to coping with her mother's decline from breast cancer. Williams's six aunts, mother and grandmother all had mastectomies, and their cancer is believed to have been a result of living downwind from nuclear testing. The author captures the essence of change in the environment, change in people as a result of their environment, and the need for humans to change their relationship with the Earth. Williams believes that we need to identify ourselves as one among the species of the planet and not the one to dominate over all other life forms.
In person, Ms. Williams is down to earth and reaches out to the public. She supports the efforts of the Wilderness Society and the Women, Health, and Environment Network in addressing environmental and feminist concerns. In 1995, Terry spoke before a Senate subcommittee hearing on the Utah Public Land Management Act. Opposing Senate Bill 884, she encouraged more wilderness preservation in Utah. Ms. Williams has been a naturalist at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and the Utah Museum of Natural History. Presently, she is the Shirley Sutton Thomas Visiting Professor of English at the University of Utah. She resides in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband Brooke.
Terry Tempest Williams