Silent Spring

Rachel Carson

Illustrated by Teagan White

Introduced by Margaret Atwood

Afterword by Edward O. Wilson

The book that launched the environmental movement, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring arrives in a beautiful new illustrated Folio Society edition with pertinent essays by Margaret Atwood and Edward O. Wilson, and stunning photography from the Documerica archive.

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‘A few thousand words from Rachel Carson and the world took a new direction.’
  1. New York Times

Rarely does a single book alter the course of history but Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring did just that. In post-war America, a new agricultural revolution saw science and industry capitalise on chemical breakthroughs by turning their attention to nature. However, as the world watched in wonder as pests and blights were obliterated by pesticide programmes, one biologist charted the unseen horror of deadly chemicals entering the food chain and affecting flora, fauna and humans. One of the most influential books of the 20th century, Silent Spring alerted people to this environmental catastrophe, questioning our right to control nature and ultimately leading to a social revolution and legislation change. Introduced by novelist and environmental activist Margaret Atwood, this beautiful new edition includes an afterword by biologist and environmentalist Edward O. Wilson. Illustrations by artist Teagan White are complemented by a selection of arresting photographs from the Documerica archive, created to document areas of environmental concern in 1970s America. The ecological theme continues to the endpapers and woodgrain-effect slipcase, which complete a book that is perhaps even more important today than when first published.

Bound in blocked buckram

Set in Legitima

328 pages

Printed in black and metallic bronze throughout, including 5 full-page 2-colour illustrations

8 pages of colour photographs

Tree ring textured endpapers

Woodgrain textured slipcase

9½˝ x 6¼˝ 

Teagan White is an artist and naturalist whose delicate work illuminates Carson’s eloquent depictions of the natural world in turmoil. Five full-page illustrations draw attention to important messages in the narrative, while the binding design is both beautiful and prophetic. A selection of colour photographs, curated from the Documerica archive, complements case studies in the book. A collection of over 20,000 images documenting areas of environmental concern in America in the early 1970s, the archive is a valuable snapshot of ecological history. Margaret Atwood’s astonishing introduction was first published in the Guardian to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Silent Spring's publication. ‘Rachel Carson is a saint’ writes Atwood, as she addresses the often gender-specific backlash that Carson faced on publication. An afterword by the Pulitzer Prize-winning scientist and author of The Diversity of Life, Edward O. Wilson, completes this outstanding edition. Writing of Carson’s legacy and the huge impact her work had on education and action, Wilson also reminds us that, ‘the battle Rachel Carson helped to lead on behalf of the environment is far from won’.

‘By acquiescing in an act that can cause such suffering to a living creature, who among us is not diminished as a human being?’
  1. from Silent Spring


A passionate ecological protest, grounded in painstaking scientific research, Silent Spring was a grim wake-up call when it was published in 1962. While the chemical industry, the Forest Service and farmers hailed DDT and its chemical cousins as miracle controls for pests and diseases, spraying swathes of farmland, forest and residential areas, they failed to appreciate or acknowledge the devastating repercussions. In order to eradicate gnats in Clear Lake, California, mosquitoes in the Florida swamplands, fire ants in arable fields, cattle ticks and garden grubs, the surrounding ecology was sacrificed. Where the ‘rain of death’ didn’t directly poison other insects, birds, fish, meadows and grasslands, it entered the food chain, resulting in sickness and death among larger wild animals, pets and humans. Carson’s shattering revelations ultimately led to a ban on DDT and the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency but she was vilified by the chemical industry in the process, with much backlash focussing on her gender. Almost sixty years later, as the world struggles with the plastic catastrophe, it is impossible to overstate the legacy of Carson’s work and the importance of sharing it.

Rachel Carson was born in Pennsylvania in 1907 and grew up on her family’s 65-acre farm. She developed an appreciation and understanding of nature from a young age. After graduating in biology, she studied for an MA at Johns Hopkins University and went on to pursue a teaching post. In 1936, Carson was employed as an aquatic biologist at the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries and it was during her time here that she researched and wrote more articles for publication. One of these formed the basis of her first book, Under the Sea-Wind (1941). The Sea Around Us (1951) and The Edge of the Sea (1955) followed to critical acclaim but it was her fourth book, Silent Spring (1962) that brought the world’s attention to both Carson and the environmental catastrophe that was the subject of her book. Carson died in 1964 in her home in Maryland and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter.

Teagan White is an artist and outsider naturalist devoted to the flora and fauna of a planet in decline. Their delicate gouache and watercolour paintings and intricate line drawings depict the relationship between humans and the rest of the Earth, and explore the tenderness and brutality that coexist in Nature. In addition to their gallery work, Teagan is a member of the VACVVM illustration collective and makes picture books and other works for children under the name Tiny Moth Studios.

Margaret Atwood is the author of more than 50 books of fiction, poetry, graphic novels and critical essays. Her novels include The Blind Assassin (2000), winner of the Booker Prize, Alias Grace (1996), The Robber Bride (1993), Cat’s Eye (1988), The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) and The Penelopiad (2005). Recent novels include the MaddAddam trilogy: the Giller and Booker prize-nominated Oryx and Crake (2003), The Year of the Flood (2009) and MaddAddam (2013). Dearly is her latest volume of poetry (2020). Atwood’s most recent novel, The Testaments (2019), the long-awaited sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, jointly won the Man Booker Prize. Atwood received the Peace Prize in 2017 and has been awarded the Franz Kafka International Literary Prize and the PEN Center USA Lifetime Achievement Award. She lives in Toronto.

Edward O. Wilson is University Research Professor Emeritus at Harvard University. In his long career he has spearheaded efforts to preserve and protect the biodiversity of the planet and The Diversity of Life (1992) is now one of the most respected works on the subject. His publications include On Human Nature (co-written with Bert Hölldobler, 1978), for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize; The Ants (1990); his autobiography, Naturalist (1994); The Future of Life (2002); The Social Conquest of the Earth (2012); and Genesis: The Deep Origin of Societies (2019). His awards include the National Medal of Science, the Gold Medal of the Worldwide Fund for Nature and the Benjamin Franklin Medal of the American Philosophical Society. In 2000 he was named one of the century’s 100 leading environmentalists by Time and Audubon magazines and in 2005 Foreign Policy named him one of the world’s 100 leading intellectuals.


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