Born on May 27, 1907 in western Pennsylvania, Rachel Carson became interested in wildlife as a child. An avid reader and eager writer, she wrote poetry while studying zoology at the Pennsylvania College for Women and Johns Hopkins University. During summers, she studied at the Woods Hole Marine Biological laboratory, and went on to teach at Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland.
In 1935, she began working as an aquatic biologist for the US Bureau of Fisheries and concurrently wrote "Seven Minute Fish Tales" for a radio series. In 1961, Carson published The Sea Around Us, for which she won the National Book Award. In addition, a documentary made from the book won an Academy Award. As a result of the commercial success of her book, she was able to quit her job at the Bureau of Fisheries and return a Guggenheim Fellowship to the foundation.
Her best known book, Silent Spring, was published in 1962, and raised awareness of the dangers of environmental pollution, especially the use of DDT. That book was largely responsible for the founding of the environmental movement and the introduction of environmental legislation. President Kennedy read her work and, despite attacks from the chemical industry, instructed his Science Advisory Committee to investigate. The panel confirmed her results in 1963. Her other works include Under the Sea-wind (1941), The Edge of the Sea (1955), and articles published in magazines like the Atlantic and The New Yorker.
Carson received many awards from conservation and animal welfare societies, and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Carson died on April 14, 1964 of breast cancer. In 1980, Carson was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.