Karen Christensen

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Karen Christensen is an American entrepreneur, environmentalist, and author who cofounded Berkshire Publishing Group in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, in 1998, after working in London at Blackwell Scientific Publications and Faber & Faber. She is the owner and CEO of Berkshire Publishing.

Karen Christensen, in her garden in Great Barrington, MA, September 2012


Christensen's family came from American Midwest. She was born in Indiana. Her father was a computer engineer and she grew up in the Silicon Valley, in California. She was educated in the UK and at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she studied with the critic Marvin Mudrick and began her writing career with several cover stories for the university's alumni magazine, including a travel memoir and a feature about the Institute for Theoretical Physics, which included interviews with physicist Lee Smolin.

After college she went first to Australia and then to London, where she worked at Blackwell Scientific Publications and then for Faber & Faber as secretary and editorial assistant to Valerie (Mrs. T. S.) Eliot on the first volume of the T. S. Eliot Letters (1988). Her memoir "Dear Mrs. Eliot" was the cover story in the U.K. newspaper the Guardian's Review on 29 January 2005 and when Valerie Eliot died in 2012 Christensen was quoted in The Times, the New York Times, and the Independent articles about the Eliot legacy.

Christensen returned to the United States in 1990 to promote the US edition of her first book, Home Ecology. She became managing editor of the Encyclopedia of U.S. Foreign Relations, working with the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. In 1998 she cofounded Berkshire Publishing Group. She made her first trip to China in 2001 while working on the Encyclopedia of Modern Asia for Charles Scribners Sons and later developed a number of China-related publications including Guanxi: The China Letter, the Encyclopedia of China, and ChinaConnectU.com.

Christensen was the senior editor of the SAGE Encyclopedia of Community and co-editor of the Scribners Encyclopedia of Modern Asia as well as The Business of Sustainability. She is the author of several popular environmental handbooks and a children's picture book, Rachel's Roses, published by Barefoot Books. Her books have been translated into French, German, Swedish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Thai.

Christensen was a speaker on women's issues for the UK Green Party and a trustee of the Environmental Design Association as well as a founding member of the Women's Environmental Network. She has served on the board of the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) Content Division, and was an appointed and then elected member of the Berkshire Hills Regional School Committee. In 2015, she ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Great Barrington Select Board. She is a member of the National Committee on United States-China Relations and a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania Press.

In 2013, Christensen founded the Train Campaign, www.traincampaign.org, an educational outreach project to support the revival of passenger train service from New York's Grand Central Terminal to the Berkshires. She lives in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and in New York City.


  • 2012 - The Business of Sustainability (co-editor)
  • 2008 - China Gold: China's Rise to Global Power and Olympic Glory (co-editor)
  • 2004/2008 - The Armchair Environmentalist (author; English, French, Thai, Swedish editions)
  • 2007 - Global Perspectives on the United States (co-editor)
  • 2004 - Encyclopedia of Community (co-editor)
  • 2002 - Encyclopedia of Modern Asia (co-editor)
  • 2000 - Eco Living (author; UK, simplified Chinese, Korean editions)
  • 1995 - The Green Home (author; UK, French, traditional Chinese editions)
  • 1995 - Rachel’s Roses (author; UK, German, Japanese editions)
  • 1989 - Home Ecology (author; UK and US editions)

See also[edit]


  • [1] "Big Big History, Small Press" in Publishers Weekly, September 24, 2014.* [2] "Don’t Steal This Book" by Karen Christensen in Library Journal Reviews, June 29, 2012.
  • [3] "An Interview with Berkshire Publishing," October 23, 2012.
  • [4] Interview with Karen Christensen in Library Journal, "It’s The Content, Stupid!”: "[Berkshire's] catalog is growing slowly but steadily, covering hard-to-do subjects and targeting both a scholarly and a popular audience," October 2008.
  • Publishersweekly.com, Interview in Publishers Weekly, "Berkshire Publishing Goes to China," July 2008.
  • Books.guardian.co.uk, Literary memoir in The Guardian Review, "Dear Mrs. Eliot,” January 2005.
  • Google.com Essay in Upgrade magazine, "True Believers and Naysayers: Exploring the World of Social Media," January 2007.
  • Washingtonpost.com, Interview in Washington Post, "Among the Few Chiefs Who Blog,” September 2006.

External links[edit]

  • [5], Karen Christensen.
  • [6], Berkshire Publishing Group.
  • [7], The Train Campaign.