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Farley Mowat

A remarkably versatile and very unlikely writer joined the ranks of humankind on May 12, 1921.  Farley Mowat, author of books on history, young adult novels, and nonfiction about the people and animals of Canada, was born in Belleville, Ontario, and grew up on the Canadian prairie.  By the time he was 13, he was going off alone on 30-mile snowshoe trips across the Saskatchewan plains.  He founded a nature magazine called Nature Lore, and he later wrote a nature column called "Prairie Pals" for the local newspaper.

When he was 18, he went off to Italy to serve in World War II, where he began writing books.  One day, while sitting in an armored vehicle, listening to the bullets and grenades explode around him, he said he felt "a sense of revulsion against my own species."  To ease his mind, he wrote about his dog back home.  He said, "I went back to the only safe place in my mind—my childhood.  It was my escape, and it saved my bloody life."  The book became The Dog Who Wouldn't Be, and it was published in 1957.

Mowat is best known for his books about the Canadian Arctic and the Far North, which he writes with humor, understanding, and compassion..  In the summer of 1947, he took a job with the Canadian government as a biologist in the Northwest Territories.  His assignment was to write about wolves and their effect on the caribou population.  He learned that wolves weren't to blame for the dwindling caribou population, but rather fur trappers.  He wrote about his ordeal in Never Cry Wolf (1963).  It became a bestseller in North America, as well as in Russia, where the government banned the slaughter of wolves based upon Mowat's findings.

Since 1949, the author has lived in or visited almost every part of Canada and many other lands, including the distant regions of Siberia.  He once said of himself, "I am a Northern Man...I like to think I am a reincarnation of the Norse saga men and, like them, my chief concern is with the tales of men, and other animals, living under conditions of natural adversity."

Mowat went on to research the fishermen off Newfoundland, whom he found delightfully untouched by human progress.  He wrote a book about his experiences there called A Whale for the Killing.

"They were the best of people, and I promised myself that one day
I would come and live among them and escape from the increasingly
mechanistic mainland world with its March Hare preoccupation with
witless production for mindless consumption; its disruptive
infatuation with change for its own sake; its idiot dedication to
the bitch goddess, Progress." - from A Whale for the Killing

Mowat's 38 books have been published in 24 languages and have sold more than 14 million copies throughout the world.
 

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