Elizabeth Kolbert

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Elizabeth Kolbert
Born (1961-07-06) July 6, 1961 (age 62)
Alma materYale University
Occupation(s)Journalist and author

Elizabeth Kolbert (born July 6, 1961) is an American journalist, author, and visiting fellow at Williams College.

She is best known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History,[1] and as an observer and commentator on the environment for The New Yorker magazine.[2]

The Sixth Extinction was a New York Times bestseller and won the Los Angeles Times' book prize for science and technology. Her book Under a White Sky was one of The Washington Post's ten best books of 2021. Kolbert is a two-time National Magazine Award winner, and in 2022 was awarded the BBVA Biophilia Award for Environmental Communication.

Her work has appeared in The Best American Science and Nature Writing and The Best American Essays.

Kolbert served as a member of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' Science and Security Board from 2017 to 2020.[3]

Early life[edit]

Kolbert spent her early childhood in the Bronx; her family then relocated to Larchmont, where she remained until 1979.

After graduating from Mamaroneck High School, Kolbert spent four years studying literature at Yale University. In 1983, she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study at Universität Hamburg, in Germany. Her brother, Dan Kolbert of Portland, Maine, is a well-known builder and author.


Elizabeth Kolbert started working for The New York Times as a stringer in Germany in 1983. In 1985, she went to work for the Metro desk. Kolbert served as the Times' Albany bureau chief from 1988 to 1991 and wrote the Metro Matters column from 1997 to 1998.

Since 1999, she has been a staff writer for The New Yorker.[2]

She was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for The Sixth Extinction in 2015.[4]

Personal life[edit]

Kolbert resides in Williamstown, Massachusetts, with her husband, John Kleiner, and three sons (Ned, Matthew, and Aaron).[5]


  • 2005 American Association for the Advancement of Science Journalism Award[6]
  • 2006 National Magazine Award for Public Interest[7]
  • 2006 Lannan Literary Fellowship[8]
  • 2006 National Academies Communication Award[9]
  • 16th Annual Heinz Award with special focus on global change, 2010[10]
  • 2010 National Magazine Award for Commentary[11]
  • 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship in Science Writing[12]
  • 2015 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction[13]
  • 2016 Sam Rose '58 and Julie Walters Prize at Dickinson College for Environmental Activism[14]
  • 2017 SEAL Environmental Journalism Award[15]
  • Blake-Dodd Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2017.[16]



  • Kolbert, Elizabeth (2004). The prophet of love : and other tales of power and deceit. New York: Bloomsbury.
  • — (2006). Field notes from a catastrophe : man, nature, and climate change. New York: Bloomsbury.
  • Kolbert, Elizabeth & Francis Spufford, eds. (2007). The ends of the Earth : an anthology of the finest writing on the Arctic and the Antarctic. 1st U.S. ed. New York: Bloomsbury.
  • Kolbert, Elizabeth, ed. (2009). The best American science and nature writing 2009. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  • — (2014). The sixth extinction : an unnatural history.
  • — (2021). Under a white sky. Penguin Random House.

Essays and reporting[edit]

Introductions, forewords and other contributions[edit]

  • Van Gelder, Gordon, ed. (2011). Welcome to the greenhouse : new science fiction on climate change. Preface by Elizabeth Kolbert. New York: OR Books.

Critical studies and reviews of Kolbert's work[edit]

Field notes from a catastrophe
The sixth extinction
Under a white sky


  1. ^ On White nose syndrome.
  2. ^ The Paleolithic diet.
  3. ^ Beecher's Trilobite Bed.
  4. ^ Renzo Piano.
  5. ^ Title in the online table of contents is "Paris, Syria, and climate change".
  6. ^ Online version is titled "Morgan Freeman's 'Ben-Hur'".
  7. ^ Online version is titled "Our automated future".
  8. ^ Online version is titled "Why facts don't change our minds".
  9. ^ Online version is titled "James Turrell makes light physical".
  10. ^ Online version is titled "Climate change and the new age of extinction".
  11. ^ Online version is titled "The art of building artificial glaciers".
  12. ^ Online version is titled "What will another decade of climate crisis bring?".
  13. ^ Title in the online table of contents is "The climate expert who delivered news no one wanted to hear". Originally published in the June 29, 2009 issue.
  14. ^ A review of Martin J. Sherwin's Gambling with armageddon : nuclear roulette from Hiroshima to the Cuban Missile Crisis (New York : Knopf, 2020). Includes information from recently declassified sources.
  15. ^ Online version is titled "Have we already been visited by aliens?".
  16. ^ Online version is titled "The deep sea is filled with treasure, but it comes at a price".
  17. ^ Online version is titled "How did fighting climate change become a partisan issue?".
  18. ^ Online version is titled "The Little-Known World of Caterpillars".


  1. ^ "2015 Pulitzer Prizes". The Pulitzer Prizes.
  2. ^ a b "Contributors: Elizabeth Kolbert". The New Yorker. Retrieved March 27, 2009.
  3. ^ "Science and Security Board". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. March 30, 2017.
  4. ^ "The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert (Henry Holt)". The Pulitzer Prizes. 2015. Retrieved July 24, 2021.
  5. ^ "Elizabeth Kolbert". Simon & Schuster. November 14, 2012. Archived from the original on November 14, 2012. Retrieved July 25, 2021.
  6. ^ "AAAS Science Journalism Award Recipients". American Association for the Advancement of Science.
  7. ^ "National Magazine Awards 2006 Winners Announced at 40th Anniversary Celebration". magazine.org.
  8. ^ "Elizabeth Kolbert". lannan.org.
  9. ^ "National Academies Keck Futures Initiative – -". keckfutures.org.
  10. ^ "The Heinz Awards: Elizabeth Kolbert". The Heinz Awards. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  11. ^ "ASME Announces the Winners of the 2010 National Magazine Awards". magazine.org.
  12. ^ "Elizabeth Kolbert – John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation". Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved November 25, 2013.
  13. ^ "The Pulitzer Prizes – Citation". The Pulitzer Prizes.
  14. ^ Getty, Matt. "The Sam Rose '58 and Julie Walters Prize at Dickinson College for Global Environmental Activism". Dickinson College.
  15. ^ "2017 SEAL Environmental Journalism Award Winners – SEAL Awards". SEAL Awards. September 26, 2017. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  16. ^ "Search Results for "kolbert" – American Academy of Arts and Letters". American Academy of Arts and Letters. n.d. Retrieved July 24, 2021.

External links[edit]

Media related to Elizabeth Kolbert at Wikimedia Commons