Tempest Williams grew up within sight of the Great Salt
Lake in Salt Lake City, Utah. A fifth-generation Mormon, her ancestors
followed Brigham Young, "the American Moses," to the
Promised Land for spiritual sovereignty in 1847, fleeing the prosecutions
they met in Navhoo, Illinois, after the murder of their prophet,
write through my biases of gender, geography, and culture. I am
a woman whose ideas
have been shaped
by the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau, these ideas are then filtered
through the prism of my culture and my culture is Mormon. These
tenets of family and community which I see at the heart of that
articulated through story."
Perhaps best known for
her book Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place (Pantheon,
1991), where she chronicles the epic rise of Great Salt Lake and
the flooding of the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in 1983, alongside
her mother's diagnosis with ovarian cancer, believed to have been
caused by radioactive fallout from the nuclear tests in the Nevada
desert in the 1950's and 60's, is now regarded as a classic in
Nature Writing, a testament to loss and the earth'' healing grace.
The San Francisco Chronicle wrote, "There has never been a book
like Refuge. . . . utterly original."
Her other books include a collection of essays, An Unspoken Hunger
(Pantheon, 1994); Desert Quartet: An Erotic Landscape (Pantheon,
1995); Coyote's Canyon
(Gibbs M. Smith, 1989); and Pieces of White Shell: A Journey to Navajoland
(Charles Scribner's Sons, 1984). She is also the author of two
children's books: The Secret
Language of Snow (Sierra Club/Pantheon, 1984); and Between Cattails (Little
Brown, 1985). Her work has been widely anthologized, having also
appeared in The New
Yorker, The Nation, Outside, Audubon, Orion, The Iowa Review, and The New
England Review, among other national and international publications.
Williams was identified
by Newsweek in 1991 as someone likely to make "a considerable impact on
the political, economic, and environmental issues facing the western states
She has served on the Governing Council of the Wilderness Society
and was a member of the western team for the President's Council
She is currently on the advisory board of the National Parks and Conservation
Association, The Nature Conservancy, and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.
She has testified before the United States Congress twice regarding issues
women's health and the environmental links associated with cancer and has
been a strong advocate for America's Redrock Wilderness Act, protecting the
canyons of southern Utah. As one of the editors of Testimony: Writers Speak
On Behalf of Utah Wilderness, she organized twenty American writers to pen
thoughts on why the protection of these wildlands matter. When President
William Jefferson Clinton dedicated the new "Grand Staircase-Escalate National Monument" on
September 18, 1996, he held up this book on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon
and said, "This made a difference." She was recently inducted to the
Rachel Carson Honor Roll and has received the National Wildlife Federation's
Conservation Award for Special Achievement. The Utne Reader named Terry Tempest
Williams as one of their "Utne 100 Visionaries," in their words, "a
person who could change your life."
She has been a fellow for the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and
received a Lannan Literary Fellowship in Creative Nonfiction. In 1999, Ms.
Williams received "The
Spirit of the West" award from the Mountain-Plains Booksellers Association
for Special Literary Achievement. She has also been recognized by the Mormon
Arts & Letters Association and honored by Physicians for Social Responsibility
for "distinguished contributions in literature, ecology, and advocacy
for an environmentally sustainable world."
Formerly, naturalist-in-residence at the Utah Museum of Natural History,
Ms. Williams now lives in Castle Valley, Utah, with her husband Brooke Williams.