Loren Eiseley (1907-1977) was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, and lived in a house on the outskirts of that town. Times were hard when he was growing up. As an escape, Eiseley would spend hours of time outside exploring nature. His father’s love of Shakespeare gave him a love of language. Later on, his half-brother gave him a copy of Robinson Crusoe and he used this book to teach himself how to learn to read. Eventually, he became a great reader, making use of the resources of the public library.
A Scientist and a Poet
In high school, his stated goal was to become a nature writer. He went on to study at the University of Nebraska and was remarkable for being a scientist and a poet. He later wrote many books and articles celebrating the natural world.
Commemorated in Nebraska Libraries
On the third floor of the Bennett Martin Public Library in Lincoln, Nebraska, is the Jane Pope Geske Heritage Room of Nebraska Writers. This room has books, information, and papers from various Nebraska writers including Loren Eiseley. A Lincoln branch library is also named for him.
“While wandering a deserted beach at dawn, stagnant in my work, I saw a man in the distance bending and throwing as he walked the endless stretch toward me. As he came near, I could see that he was throwing starfish, abandoned on the sand by the tide, back into the sea. When he was close enough I asked him why he was working so hard at this strange task. He said that the sun would dry the starfish and they would die. I said to him that I thought he was foolish. There were thousands of starfish on miles and miles of beach. One man alone could never make a difference. He smiled as he picked up the next starfish. Hurling it far into the sea he said, ‘It makes a difference for this one.’ I abandoned my writing and spent the morning throwing starfish.”
This is the first stop on our Nebraska Author Adventures Trail.
Rebecca Blake Beech