Research Programs: Public Scholars

Period of Performance

9/1/2021 - 8/31/2022

Funding Totals

$60,000.00 (approved)
$60,000.00 (awarded)

A Biography of the American Writer and Naturalist Peter Matthiessen (1927-2014)

FAIN: FZ-279952-21

Lance Richardson
Unaffiliated independent scholar

A biography of American writer and naturalist Peter Matthiessen (1927–2014).

True Nature will be the first comprehensive biography of the American writer, naturalist, and Zen roshi, Peter Matthiessen. A member of what William Styron once called “the silent generation”—a cohort that also included Truman Capote and Norman Mailer—Matthiessen has not received the same critical attention as many of his peers despite the scope of his achievements. In an extraordinarily diverse career, he wrangled with many of the most critical issues of the last century, from environmental degradation to civil rights. Though a novelist at heart, he wrote one of the earliest works of the modern environmental movement and major examples of advocacy journalism concerning Cesar Chavez and Native Americans. He was also co-founder of The Paris Review while undercover for the CIA. True Nature documents his lifelong journey (his “pilgrimage”) to illustrate the evolution of a sensibility—a kind of ecological consciousness that combined science and spirituality, empiricism and intuition.