Gretel Ehrlich

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Gretel Ehrlich
Born (1946-01-21) January 21, 1946 (age 78)
Santa Barbara, California, U.S.
GenreNon fiction
Notable worksThis Cold Heaven[1][2]
Notable awardsWhiting Award
Henry David Thoreau Prize[3]
PartnerNeal Conan (2014 to his death)

Gretel Ehrlich is an American travel writer, poet and essayist.


Born in 1946 in Santa Barbara, California,[4] she studied at Bennington College and UCLA film school. She began to write full-time in 1978 while living on a Wyoming ranch after the death of a loved one. Ehrlich debuted in 1985 with The Solace of Open Spaces, a collection of essays on rural life in Wyoming.[5] Her first novel was also set in Wyoming, entitled Heart Mountain (1988), about a community being invaded by an internment camp for Japanese Americans.

One of Ehrlich's best-received books is a volume of creative nonfiction essays called Islands, The Universe, Home. Her characteristic style of merging intense, vivid, factual observations of nature with a wryly mystical personal voice is evident in this work.[6] Other books include This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland[7][8] and two volumes of poetry.

In 1991 Ehrlich was hit by lightning and was incapacitated for several years. She wrote a book about the experience, A Match to the Heart, which was published in 1994.[9] Since 1993, she has traveled extensively, especially through Greenland,[10] Japan[11] and western China.[12][10]

Her work is frequently anthologised, including The Nature Reader. She has also received many grants. In 1991, she collaborated with British choreographer Siobhan Davies, writing and recording a poem cycle for a ballet that opened in the Southbank Centre in London.[13][14][15]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • To Touch the Water, Ahsahta Press, 1981, ISBN 978-0-916272-16-6
  • The Solace of Open Spaces, Viking Press, 1985, ISBN 978-0-670-80678-2; 2017 edition.
  • Heart Mountain, Viking Press, 1988, ISBN 978-0-670-82160-0; 2017 edition.
  • Drinking Dry Clouds: Stories from Wyoming, Capra Press, 1991, ISBN 978-0-88496-315-8; 2005 edition.
  • Islands, the Universe, Home, Viking Press, 1991, ISBN 978-0-670-82161-7
  • Arctic Heart: A Poem Cycle, Capra Press, 1992, ISBN 978-0-88496-357-8
  • A Match to the Heart: One Woman's Story of Being Struck by Lightning, Pantheon Books, 1994, ISBN 978-0-679-42550-2; 1995 ebook edition.
  • John Muir: Nature's Visionary, National Geographic Society, 2000, ISBN 978-0-7922-7954-9 book jacket, courtesy of
  • This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland, Pantheon Books, 2001, ISBN 978-0-679-44200-4
  • The Future of Ice: A Journey Into Cold, Pantheon Books, 2004, ISBN 978-0-375-42251-5
  • In the Empire of Ice: Encounters in a Changing Landscape, National Geographic Society, 2010, ISBN 978-1-4262-0574-3
  • Facing the Wave: A Journey in the Wake of the Tsunami, Pantheon, 2013, ISBN 978-0-307-90731-8; 2014 pbk edition.
  • ”Unsolaced: Among the Way to All That Is”, Pantheon, 2021[16] ISBN 978-0-307-91179-7


  1. ^ "review of This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland by Gretel Ehrlich". 2001.
  2. ^ "'This Cold Heaven'". NPR. 2001-12-21.
  3. ^ PEN New England - Henry David Thoreau Prize for Literary Excellence in Nature Writing
  4. ^ Library Thing
  5. ^ Moore, Judith (December 1, 1985). "review of The Solace of Open Spaces by Gretel Ehrlich". The New York Times. p. 41, Section 7.
  6. ^ "review of Islands, the Universe, Home by Gretel Ehrlich". Kirkus Reviews. 1991-10-01.
  7. ^ Diski, Jenny (2002-02-16). "Review: This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland by Gretel Ehrlich". the Guardian.
  8. ^ Birnbaum, Robert (2001-12-28). "Gretel Ehrlich Interview (This Cold Heaven)". Identity Theory. Remembering Robert Birnbaum by Matt Borondy, December 8, 2023 Robert Birnbaum was a journalist and a longtime friend of Howard Zinn.
  9. ^ Hass, Robert (June 26, 1994). "review of A Match to the Heart by Gretel Ehrlich". The Washington Post.
  10. ^ a b "Gretel Ehrlich, Panelist". January 2006 Key West Literary Seminar. Retrieved 2024-01-11.
  11. ^ Ehrlich, Gretel (2013). "Japan, After the Wave". Orion Magazine.
  12. ^ "review of Questions of Heaven: The Chinese Journeys of an American Buddhist by Gretel Ehrlich". Publishers Weekly. 1997.
  13. ^ The Archive of Siobhan Davies Dance - Arctic Heart Archived 2015-11-19 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 18 November 2015.
  14. ^ Mussoorie Writers - Gretel Ehrlich Archived 2015-11-19 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 18 November 2015.
  15. ^ Braided River: Gretel Ehrlich - Essayist. Retrieved on 18 November 2015.
  16. ^ "Gretel Ehrlich discusses her book, Unsolaced, with Frances McCue". YouTube. Elliott Bay Book Company. February 1, 2021. (See Frances McCue.)

External links[edit]