Erdman, Wendell Berry is a well-known American author, critic, and farmer who aided individuals in effectively diagnosing the nature and scope of their difficulties. He is an outspoken environmentalist who has raised awareness of issues such as soil loss and degradation, toxic contamination, fossil-fuel dependency, and rural community devastation. Berry’s works promoted an environmentally sound way of life and rekindled the human-nature bond. He redefined patriotism as a love for the country beneath one’s feet and the people who dwell there. His goal is to restore the environment’s health through responsible agriculture, which he believes is the only long-term solution to the planet’s depletion. He looked at three primary topics: agriculture, its history, and current state, marriage and domesticity, and educational applications. Berry had an unconventional academic career, focusing on a lesser-known issue, the historical growth of the land, which is a formative and vital feature of practically every nation. His novels depict America’s rural history, and his lectures on environmental responsibility are based on his own farming experience.
Childhood and Adolescence
He was born to Virginia Erdman Berry and John Marshall Berry, a lawyer and administrator with the Burley Tobacco Growers Association. His family had a long farming history, which had a big influence on how he thought as a kid.
In 1948, he entered at Millersburg Military Institute for secondary education, where he graduated after four years.
He was enrolled in university in 1952 and graduated in 1957 with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in English literature.
Career of Wendell Berry
After completing his studies, he began teaching English at Georgetown College in 1957, and soon after, he enrolled at Stanford University as a Wallace Stegner fellow to study creative writing.
He taught creative writing at Stanford University from 1959 to 1960, and it was during this period that he published his debut novel, Nathan Coulter, the first in the Port William trilogy. It includes a brief description of the rural area of Kentucky, which he has long been fascinated by.
On a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, he traveled to Italy and France in 1961. He met Wallace Fowlie, an American writer, translator, and literature professor, there.
He taught English to freshmen at New York University’s University Heights Campus in the Bronx from 1962 to 1964. He began teaching creative writing at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, at the conclusion of it. He met writer Guy Davenport, writer and mystic Thomas Merton, and photographer Ralph Eugene Meatyard at this time.
‘November twenty-six nineteen hundred sixty-three,’ his debut poetry collection, was published in 1964. It contained a single poem commemorating President John F. Kennedy’s death.
In 1965, he relocated to the Lane’s Landing farm outside Port Royal, Kentucky, where he continued to write and farm. ‘The Long-Legged House’ and ‘A Native Hill’ are two of his pieces that describe it.
He edited and wrote for Roadale, an American publisher of health and wellness periodicals and books, in the 1970s and early 1980s.
In 1987, he returned to the University of Kentucky’s English Department to teach Literature and Education courses. In the same year, he was awarded an honorary degree by Santa Clara University and named a writer in residence at Becknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.
Major Projects of Wendell Berry
On February 9, 2003, his piece, ‘A Citizen’s Response to the United States’s National Security Strategy,’ was published as a full-page advertisement in the New York Times by ‘Orion Magazine.’
He and the head of the Land Institute, Wes Jackson, wrote an open edition piece titled ’50-Year Farm Bill’ in the New York Times on January 4, 2009. It primarily focused on the National Agricultural Policy, which was founded on ecological principles. In July, he traveled to Washington, DC to promote it to the mainstream public as well as the rural population.
In a combined protest with the Berea-based Kentucky Environmental Foundation (KEF) and several other non-profit organizations in October 2009, he called for the cancellation of construction of a coal-burning power plant in Clark County, Kentucky.
In February 2011, he and 14 other protestors from the environmental group ‘Kentuckians for the Commonwealth’ demanded that the Kentucky government cease mountaintop removal coal mining. For his protest, he was imprisoned in the Kentucky governor’s office.
In 2011, he founded ‘The Berry Center’ in New Castle, Kentucky, to raise awareness about topics such as land use, farm policy, local food infrastructure, urban farming education, and farmer education, which are all lacking in Kentucky and the rest of the country.
Achievements & Awards
For his poem, he received the ‘Bess Hokin Prize’ from the Poetry Magazine in 1967.
In 1969, he was awarded the ‘Borestone Mountain Poetry Award,’ as well as a ‘National Endowment of the Arts Grant,’ which helped him fund and support his efforts.
The University of Kentucky recognized him “Distinguished Professor of the Year” in 1971. In the same year, he was honored by the National Institute of Arts and Letters with the National Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Excellence in Writing.
For ‘The Memory of Old Jack,’ he got the ‘Friends for American Writers Award’ in 1975. Through the eyes of a former Kentucky farmer, the book portrayed the honesty and integrity of the land and the people who lived on it.
He won the ‘Lannan Foundation Award for Nonfiction’ in 1989. He gave a commencement lecture to graduating students at the ‘College of the Atlantic’ in the United States in the same year.
The Louisville Community Foundation, University of Louisville, presented him with the ‘Victory Spirit Ethics Award’ in 1992. The following year, he was awarded the ‘Kentucky Libraries Award for Intellectual Excellence’ as well as the Orion Society’s ‘John Hay Award.’
For his poetry, he was awarded the ‘Aiken Taylor Award’ by the Sewanee Review in 1994. In the same year, he earned the Ingersoll Foundation’s ‘T.S. Eliot Award.’
He is a fellow of Temenos Academy in the United Kingdom, where he regularly contributes to the college’s yearly magazine, ‘Temenos Academy Review.’ The Prince of Wales serves as the patron of the academy.
In 2012, he was inducted into the ‘Fellowship of Southern Writers,’ a literary organization. For his contributions to the fields of writing and humanities, he was also awarded the ‘National Humanities Medal.’
He was inducted into ‘The American Academy of Arts and Sciences,’ one of the oldest and most distinguished honorary societies, in 2013.
His personal life began in 1955 when he met Tanya Amyx, the daughter of a University of Kentucky art professor. They married on May 29, 1957, and had two children: Mary Dee, a daughter, and Prior Clifford, a son (Den).
Wendell Berry’s Net Worth
Wendell Berry is one of the wealthiest novelists and one of the most well-known. Wendell Berry’s net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.
He is a strong supporter of small-town American life, environmental conservation, and traditional farming methods.