Ellen Meloy

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Ellen Meloy (June 21, 1946, California – November 4, 2004, Bluff, Utah) was an American nature writer.


She graduated from Goucher College with a degree in art, and from the University of Montana with a master's degree in environmental studies.[1] She married her husband Mark, a river ranger, in 1985.[2] Her nephew is the musician and writer Colin Meloy and her niece is the writer Maile Meloy

An award has been named for her,[3] and the fourth recipient is Amy Irvine.[4]


…in the desert there is everything and there is nothing. Stay curious. Know where you are—your biological address. Get to know your neighbors—plants, creatures, who lives there, who died there, who is blessed, cursed, what is absent or in danger or in need of your help. Pay attention to the weather, to what breaks your heart, to what lifts your heart. Write it down.

~E.M. November 2004

On the Colorado Plateau, with its considerable share of wildlands, a natural world more or less intact, the most exotic terrain may be the plateau's own history. During my recent journeys this history felt foreign and unnervingly off-the-Map, even as I lived in its heart. Gaze out from the mesa, and you will meet my duplicitous lover. You will see eternity, a desert that like no other place exudes the timelessness of nature as the final arbiter. Scrape off our century, and you will find its usurper, pressed into a nugget of inorganic matter, the single greatest threat to the continuity of life. The history inscribed itself on the Map's most alarming folios; ignoring it was no way to earn Home.

—Ellen Meloy, The Last Cheater's Waltz



  • Raven's Exile: A Season on the Green River. H. Holt. 1994. ISBN 978-0-8050-2497-5. 
  • The Last Cheater's Waltz: Beauty and Violence in the Desert Southwest. University of Arizona Press. 2001. ISBN 978-0-8165-2153-1. 
  • The anthropology of turquoise: meditations on landscape, art, and spirit. Pantheon Books. 2002. ISBN 978-0-375-40885-4. 
  • Eating Stone: Imagination and the Loss of the Wild. Pantheon Books. 2005. ISBN 978-0-375-42216-4. 



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