Diane Ackerman

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Diane Ackerman
Diane Ackerman.jpg
Born (1948-10-07) October 7, 1948 (age 66)
Occupation Author
Nationality United States

Diane Ackerman (born October 7, 1948) is an American poet, essayist, and naturalist.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Ackerman lived in Waukegan, Illinois, until she was 8, when her family moved to Allentown, Pennsylvania.

She received a Bachelor of Arts in English from Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Arts, Master of Fine Arts and Ph.D. from Cornell University. Among the members of her dissertation committee was Carl Sagan, an astronomer and the creator of the Cosmos television series.[2] She has taught at a number of universities, including Columbia and Cornell.[3]

In 1995, Ackerman hosted a five-part Nova miniseries, Mystery of the Senses, based on her book, A Natural History of the Senses.[4]

A movie adaptation of her book, The Zookeeper's Wife, starring Jessica Chastain as Antonina Żabińska, is scheduled to begin filming in 2015.[5]

She is married to the novelist Paul West. In 2011, Ackerman published a memoir, One Hundred Names for Love about West's recovery from an aphasiac stroke.[6] They live in Upstate New York.

A collection of her manuscripts, writings and papers (the Diane Ackerman Papers, 1971–1997—Collection No. 6299) is housed at the Cornell University Library.[7]

Awards and Honors[edit]

In 2015, Ackerman received a P.E.N. Henry David Thoreau Award for Nature Writing for The Human Age.[8] In 2012, she was a finalist for both a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Critics Circle Award for One Hundred Names for Love.[9][10] The Zookeeper's Wife received an Orion Book Award in 2008.[11] She has received a D. Lit from Kenyon College, Guggenheim Fellowship, John Burroughs Nature Award, Lavan Poetry Prize, and has been honored as a Literary Lion of the New York Public Library.[12] Ackerman has had three New York Times bestsellers: The Human Age (2014), The Zookeeper's Wife (2008), and A Natural History of the Senses (1990).[13][14][15]

Selected bibliography[edit]

The Great Affair
The great affair, the love affair with life,
is to live as variously as possible,
to groom one's curiosity like a high-spirited thoroughbred,
climb aboard, and gallop over the thick, sun-struck hills every day..
It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery,
but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.

– Diane Ackerman, "found poetry" from A Natural History of the Senses [16]



  • Twilight of the Tenderfoot (1980)
  • On Extended Wings (1985)
  • A Natural History of the Senses (1990)
  • The Moon by Whale Light, and Other Adventures Among Bats and Crocodilains, Penguins and Whales (1991)
  • A Natural History of Love (1994)
  • The Rarest of the Rare (1995)
  • A Slender Thread (1997)
  • Deep Play (1999)
  • Cultivating Delight (2002)
  • An Alchemy of Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain (2004)
  • The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story (2007)
  • Dawn Light: Dancing with Cranes and Other Ways to Start the Day (2009)
  • One Hundred Names for Love: A Stroke, a Marriage, and the Language of Healing (2011)
  • The Human Age: The World Shaped By Us (2014)

Children's books[edit]

  • Monk Seal Hideaway (1995)
  • Bats: Shadows in the Night (1997)
  • Animal Sense (poetry) (2003)


  1. ^ Ackerman, Diane. "The Poetry Foundation". Retrieved 14 February 2015. 
  2. ^ Richards, Linda L. (August 1999). "Interview: Diane Ackerman". January Magazine. Retrieved 2013-08-31. I didn't want to be a scientist. I just felt that the universe wasn't knowable from only one perspective. I wanted to be able to go exploring: follow my curiosity in both worlds. So I had a poet on my doctoral committee. And I had a scientist -- Carl Sagan. And I had someone in comparative literature. Essentially, they all ran interference for me so that I could -- ultimately -- write a dissertation that was about the metaphysical mind: science and art and be teaching and be in school while I was writing books. 
  3. ^ Ackerman, Diane. "The Poetry Foundation". Retrieved 14 February 2015. 
  4. ^ "Mystery of the Senses". NOVA Online. 
  5. ^ "The Zookeeper's Wife". Internet Movie Database. 
  6. ^ "Diane Ackerman's 'One Hundred Names for Love': A wife brings her stricken husband back from the brink". The Seattle Times. May 28, 2011. 
  7. ^ Ackerman, Diane. "Collected Papers". Cornell University Library. 
  8. ^ "Henry David Thoreau Prize". P.E.N. New England. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  9. ^ "Nonfiction Prize 2012". Pulitzer. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  10. ^ "2011 Finalists NBCC Award". National Book Critics Circle. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  11. ^ "2008 Orion Book Award.". Orion Magazine. April 1, 2008. 
  12. ^ "Diane Ackerman". Official website. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  13. ^ "Literary Sojourn". Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  14. ^ "W.W. Norton Publisher". Website. 
  15. ^ "Diane Ackerman". Official website. 
  16. ^ Ackerman, Diane (1990). A Natural History of the Senses. Vintage. p. 309. ISBN 0-679-73566-6. 

External links[edit]