Marjory Stoneman Douglas: “She told the world about the Florida Everglades”

From The Writer’s Almanac:

It is the birthday of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, the American conservationist and writer who told the world about the Florida Everglades. She was born in Minneapolis. Her parents divorced and she grew up in Massachusetts with her mother’s family.

She graduated from Wellesley College as Class Orator, and soon afterward her mother died. She drifted around the country working department store jobs, failed at marriage, and eventually reunited with her father who was editor of the Miami Herald. There she became what she wanted to be: a writer. She produced novels, books of short stories, plays, poems, and hundreds of articles. And she won an O. Henry award.

She is most remembered for her book The Everglades: River of Grass, published the same year that Everglades National Park was dedicated. In the book she dispels the myth that the Everglades is a swamp, describing it as a broad shallow waterway that sustains several species, many endangered. She also described the people, politics, and money surrounding Florida’s population explosion, which helped pass legislation to protect the Glades. It also helped her start the organization Friends of the Everglades.

When she was 103, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. When she died five years later, her ashes were spread over the Everglades.

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