Delia Owens (born ca. 1949) is an American author and zoologist. Her debut novel Where the Crawdads Sing topped The New York Times Fiction Best Sellers of 2019 for 25 non-consecutive weeks. The book has been on New York Times Bestsellers lists for more than a year. She has also written the memoirs Cry of the Kalahari, The Eye of the Elephant, and Secrets of the Savanna, with her then-husband, Mark, about their time studying animals in Africa.
Owens grew up in rural Georgia in the 1950s. She and her then-husband, Mark Owens, were students in biology at the University of Georgia. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology from the University of Georgia and a Ph.D. in Animal Behavior from the University of California, Davis. They moved to Africa in 1974, worked in the Kalahari Desert, Botswana, then at the North Luangwa National Park, and later in Mpika, Zambia in the early 1990s. Mark Owens has been accused of operating a "shoot to kill" policy against poachers. ABC aired a report in 1996 entitled "Deadly Game: The Mark and Delia Owens Story", produced by Andrew Tkach and hosted by Meredith Vieira. The report featured the controversial killing of a poacher in Zambia, allegedly committed by her stepson. Both are wanted in Zambia for questioning. The Owens have denied the accusations.The family were also accused of having "archaic ideas about Africans", with one critic describing their views as “Nice continent. Pity about the Africans” Since completing her PhD in Biology she has published her studies of African wildlife behavioral ecology in professional journals, including Nature, the Journal of Mammalogy, Animal Behaviour, and the African Journal of Ecology. She has also contributed articles to Natural History and International Wildlife aimed at a wider audience.
Owens is the co-founder of the Owens Foundation for Wildlife Conservation in Stone Mountain, GA. She has also worked as a roving editor for International Wildlife, lectured throughout North America, and participated in conservation efforts for the grizzly bear throughout the United States.
- 1981 - Rolex Award for Enterprise for Kalahari Research Project (with former husband, Mark Owens)
- 1985 - John Burroughs Award (with Mark Owens)
- 1993 - University of California Outstanding Alumnus Award
- 1994 - Ridder of the Golden Ark (Netherlands)
- Biology in fiction#Ethology – animal behavior in fiction, as exemplified by the account in Where the Crawdads Sing
- Goldberg, Jeffrey (March 29, 2010). "The Hunted". The New Yorker.
- "Combined Print & E-Book Fiction, Bestsellers". The New York Times. 2019.
- "Crawdads: 1 year on the NYT Bestsellers List". Delia Owens. Retrieved 2019-11-09.
- "Review of The Eye of the Elephant". Publishers Weekly. 28 September 1992.
- "Review of The Eye of the Elephant". Kirkus Reviews. 1992.
- "Review of Secrets of the Savanna". Publishers Weeekly. 20 March 2006.
- "Delia Owens, Who Suffused Her African Memoirs With Lush Natural Detail, Turns to Fiction". The New York Times. 2018.
- "With 'Where the Crawdads Sing,' a Debut Novel Goes Big". Wall Street Journal. 2018.
- Cary, Alice (August 2018). "Delia Owens | A natural way of storytelling". BookPage. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
- "Delia Owens". Delia Owens. Retrieved 2019-11-09.
- Miller, Laura (2019-07-30). "The Dark History of the Year's Bestselling Debut Novelist". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 2019-12-22.
- Goldberg, Jeffrey (2010-05-03). "Racism on Mark and Delia Owens's Website". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2020-01-13.
- "Owens, Delia 1949(?)-". Encyclopedia.com. 27 August 2019. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
- "About the Awards". www.johnburroughsassociation.org. Retrieved 2019-11-09.
- "Elephants Under Fire, Upon Reflection, 1992 UWTV Classics". YouTube. UW Video. 14 February 2014; Marcia Alvar's 1992 interview of Delia Owens
- "Delia Owens, "Where the Crawdads Sing"". YouTube. Politics and Prose. 22 September 2019.