An author of 13 books, poet, documentary filmmaker, former sheepherder and ranch hand, Gretel Ehrlich has truly done it all. She was born in Santa Barbara California but has since made Shell, Wyoming her home, living on a nature-filled ranch dividing her time between writing, ranching, and sheepherding. In the year 1991, Ehrlich was struck by lightning while taking a walk on her ranch. She was hospitalized and severely debilitated for several years. She writes of the experience in her bestselling memoir, A Match to the Heart.

She tends to center her work around the environment and new ways to grasp the interconnectedness of the landscape and people of the western United States. Ehrlich has spent much of her time traveling through Greenland and the Arctic and was invited to participate in a five-week residency at the Robert Rauschenburg Foundation to work with visual artists on a climate change project, resulting in a collaboration with artist Mel Chin for an event and film at the Paris Climate Conference.

As an author and poet Ehrlich has published in The Atlantic, Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, National Geographic Adventure, Life, Aperture, Time, Architectural Digest, Antaeus, Orion, Shambhala Sun, National Geographic Traveler, Tricycle, and Outside, among several others. She attended Bennington College, the University of California at Los Angeles Film School, and the New School for Social Research. Along with publishing her works in dozens of international magazines, Ehrlich has won numerous awards for her work including,the 2010 PEN Thoreau Award, a Bellagio Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Award, the Harold B. Vurcell Award for distinguished prose from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, and two Expedition Council Grants from the National Geographic Society for circumpolar travel in the high Arctic.

Born: 1946

Hometown: Santa Barbara, CA

Education: Bennington College and UCLA Film School

Occupation: Writer, poet, and traveler

Expeditions: Greenland, Arctic, Patagonia, China, Tibet, Japan, and many more

Favorite Place: I just try to stay open to every place

Favorite Items In The Field: Notebook and a pen

Books: The Solace of Open Spaces; Heart Mountain; Unsolaced: Along the way to all that is; This Cold Heaven; Islands, the Universe, Home; and much more


Advice: Read a lot. Take notes. And wander around with a sense of curiosity and discovery and humor.

*answers courtesy of The Quivering Pen interview with Gretel Ehrlich