Author Rick Bass: Biography & Books

Instructor: Christina Boggs

Chrissy has taught secondary English and history and writes online curriculum. She has an M.S.Ed. in Social Studies Education.

Rick Bass is an American environmentalist and writer, but how did he get his start? In this lesson, you will learn about Bass's early life and how he became a prolific voice for conservation in the United States.

Early Life and Career

Author Rick Bass was born on March 7, 1958 in Fort Worth, Texas, but he grew up in about four hours south in Houston. Bass's father was a geologist, which is likely what inspired Rick to study geology with an emphasis in Wildlife Management at Utah State University. After graduating in 1979, Bass moved to Jackson, Mississippi where he worked as a petroleum geologist studying the areas where fossil fuels like oil are found.

Rick Bass worked for eight years as a geologist, but in his spare time he started writing. Free moments at work, especially his lunch break, were dedicated to writing articles and short stories. In an interview with Narrative Magazine, Bass described his apartment during that time as 'cluttered.' While the walls in your bedroom are probably plastered with posters or pictures of you and your friends, his walls were covered with quotes and bits and pieces from different books and articles that he'd read.

Becoming an Conservation Activist

In 1987, Bass decided to leave his job and his home in Jackson and move to Yaak Valley, Montana with his wife. Montana was completely unlike his previous homes in Texas and Mississippi. The total population of Montana is just over 1 million people. To put this in perspective, the population of Houston where Bass grew up has a population of over 2 million people! For Bass, the Montana wilderness was the perfect place to write: it's quiet and secluded from the hustle and bustle of civilization, not to mention it's visually stunning!

His background as a petroleum geologist and his love of the wilderness led to a career as a conservation activist. After moving to Yaak Valley, Bass realized his new home was threatened by the dangers of construction and logging, or cutting down trees to be used for lumber. To prevent the devastation of the wilderness, Bass became an active member of multiple environmental and conservation organizations:

  • Cabinet Resources Group
  • Montana Wilderness Association
  • Round River Conservation Studies
  • Sierra Club
  • Yaak Valley Forest Council

Rick Bass the Writer

Bass has published over 30 books and has contributed countless articles to publications like Field and Stream, Narrative, and Outdoor Life. Bass published his first nonfiction book The Deer Pasture in 1985 and has gone on to write numerous books about the wilderness, wildlife, and his personal experiences. While many of his books focus on Montana and its inhabitants, like wolves and caribou, Bass has also written about other endangered areas and species including The Black Rhinos of Namibia.

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