Sy Montgomery

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Sy Montgomery
Sy Montgomery visits Sam Marshall's tarantula lab.
Sy Montgomery visits Sam Marshall's tarantula lab.
Born (1958-02-07) February 7, 1958 (age 63)
Frankfurt, Germany
OccupationNaturalist, author and scriptwriter
EducationWestfield High School
Alma materSyracuse University
Notable worksThe Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness
Notable awards2007 Orbis Pictus Award
SpouseHoward Mansfield
Author's website

Sy Montgomery (born February 7, 1958) is a naturalist, author and scriptwriter who writes for children as well as adults. She is author of 28 books, including The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness, which was a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction and was on The New York Times Best Seller list. Her most popular book is The Good Good Pig, the bestselling memoir of life with her pig, Christopher Hogwood. Her other notable titles include Journey of the Pink Dolphins, Spell of the Tiger, and Search for the Golden Moon Bear. She has been described as "part Indiana Jones, part Emily Dickinson".[1] Her book for children, Quest for the Tree Kangaroo: An Expedition to the Cloud Forest of New Guinea was the recipient of the 2007 Orbis Pictus Award and was selected as an Honor book for the Sibert Medal.[2]

For a half-hour National Geographic segment, she scripted and appeared in Spell of the Tiger, based on her book of the same title. Also for National Geographic, she developed and scripted Mother Bear Man based on the work of Ben Kilham, who raises and releases orphaned American black bears, which won a Chris Award. [3]

Author Vicki Croke asked Sy what she has learned, not just about an animal’s natural history, but lessons about life. Sy answered: “How to be a good creature. How do you be compassionate?… I think that animals teach compassion better than anything else and compassion doesn’t necessarily just mean a little mouse with a sore foot and you try to fix it. It means getting yourself inside the mind and heart of someone else. Seeing someone’s soul, looking for their truth. Animals teach you all of that and that’s how you get compassion and heart.” [4]

Personal life[edit]

Montgomery was born on February 7, 1958, in Frankfurt, Germany.[5][6] She grew up in Westfield, New Jersey and is a 1975 graduate of Westfield High School and a 1979 graduate of Syracuse University, a triple major with dual degrees in magazine journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and in French language and literature and in psychology from the College of Arts and Sciences. She has been awarded two honorary doctorate degrees: an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Keene State College in 2004 and an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Franklin Pierce University and Southern New Hampshire University in 2011.[7]

She lives in Hancock, New Hampshire with her husband, writer Howard Mansfield.[8]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • 2019 Earthwatch International Travel fellowship to join the Tracking Wild Dogs expedition.
  • 2019 Winner of the John Burroughs Association Riverby Award for Magnificent Migrations: On Safari with African's Last Great Herds.
  • 2018 New York Times bestseller for How to Be a Good Creature.
  • 2016 New England Independent Booksellers Association New England Book Award for Nonfiction.
  • 2016 American Association for the Advancement of Science / Subaru SB&F Winning Middle Grades Science Book[9]
  • 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction finalist for The Soul of an Octopus[10][11]
  • New England Independent Booksellers Association, Nonfiction award (lifetime achievement)
  • ASPCA Henry Bergh Award for Nonfiction (lifetime achievement)
  • 2013 American Association for the Advancement of Science Science Book and Film Award for children's nonfiction, Temple Grandin: How the Woman Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World
  • 2010 The Washington Post/Children's Book Guild Award for Nonfiction[12]
  • 2011 Sibert Medal winner for Kakapo Rescue

List of works[edit]

For adults:[13]

  • 1991, The Curious Naturalist: Nature's Everyday Mysteries
  • 1995, Seasons of the Wild
  • 1995, Spell of the Tiger: The Man-eaters of the Sunderbans
  • 2000, Journey of the Pink Dolphins: An Amazon quest
  • 2000, Walking with the Great Apes
  • 2002, Search for the Golden Moon Bear: Science and Adventure in Pursuit of a New Species
  • 2007, The Good Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood
  • 2010, Birdology
  • 2012, The Wild out of Your Window
  • 2015, The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness
  • 2018, How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals (A New York Times bestseller)
  • 2021, The Hummingbirds' Gift: Wonder, Beauty, and Renewal on Wings

For children:[14]

  • 1999, The Snake Scientist
  • 2001, The Man-Eating Tigers of Sundarbans
  • 2002, Encantado: Pink Dolphin of the Amazon
  • 2004, The Tarantula Scientist
  • 2006, Quest for the Tree Kangaroo: An Expedition to the Cloud Forest of New Guinea
  • 2009, Saving the Ghost of the Mountain: An Expedition among Snow Leopards in Mongolia
  • 2010, Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot
  • 2012, Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World
  • 2013, Snowball the Dancing Cockatoo
  • 2013, The Tapir Scientist: Saving South America's Largest Mammal
  • 2014, Chasing Cheetahs: The Race to Save Africa's Fastest Cat
  • 2015, The Octopus Scientists: Exploring the Mind of a Mollusk
  • 2016, The Great White Shark Scientist
  • 2017, Amazon Adventure
  • 2018, The Hyena Scientist


“Equal parts poet and scientist.” —The New York Times [15]

“Part Indiana Jones and part Emily Dickinson.” —The Boston Globe [16]

“Sy Montgomery has insight into the Others that every nature writer on this continent envies. I am no exception. Clear, emotionally telling and always right to the point, her accounts of the other forms of life are without peer.” —Farley Mowat, author of Never Cry Wolf [17]

“Few writers—or human beings—fuse intelligence and heart as completely as Sy Montgomery.” —Beth Kephart, author of Seeing Past Z, and Still Love in Strange Places [18]

“Montgomery gives herself over so wholeheartedly to animals, and other humans who share her passion for creatures both rare and ubiquitous, that her nature chronicles are uniquely radiant.” —American Library Association’s Booklist [19]

“The only shaman that I know of, and certainly the only one I know personally. Sy, as shamans do, roves the earth relentlessly: there have been sightings of her from the Caribbean to Sunderbans (a non-mythical place, which hovers somewhere between India and Bangladesh, and where non-mythical tigers regularly hunt non-mythical humans) with lengthy touch-downs also in Cambodia, the Amazon, Tahiti, New Guinea, Mongolia, and Manitoba. On her journeys she communes at length with birds, mammals, and sea creatures — surreal ones such as pink dolphins, ground-dwelling Kakapo parrots, golden moon bears, giant tarantulas, white sharks, tree kangaroos, snow leopards, and the giant Cassowary bird, and … octopuses (not octopi), but she is equally tight with domestic animals such as pigs, chickens, and cockatoos.” —Phil Pochoda, retired publishing veteran (Simon & Schuster, Prentice Hall Press, Pantheon Books, University of Michigan Press, and the University Press of New England) [20]


  1. ^ "Authors". 17 July 2018.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "National Geographic Magazine".
  4. ^ "How Should We Talk About Animal Emotions?".
  5. ^ "Sy Montgomery". 18 January 2022.
  6. ^ Sy Montgomery. "Autobiographical Account" (PDF). Retrieved April 9, 2021.
  7. ^ "New Hampshire Chess Association".
  8. ^ "Sy Montgomery".
  9. ^ "2016 AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prizes Honor Science Books About Animals: In the Field, In Your Backyard, or Back From Extinction". American Association for the Advancement of Science. Retrieved 2019-01-15.
  10. ^ "2015 National Book Awards". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  11. ^ Alter, Alexandra (19 November 2015). "Ta-Nehisi Coates Wins National Book Award". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  12. ^ "Nonfiction Award - Previous Winners". Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  13. ^ "Books by Sy Montgomery (Author of the Soul of an Octopus)".
  14. ^ "Books by Sy Montgomery (Author of the Soul of an Octopus)".
  15. ^ "New Hampshire Chess Association".
  16. ^ "New Hampshire Chess Association".
  17. ^ "New Hampshire Chess Association".
  18. ^ "New Hampshire Chess Association".
  19. ^ "New Hampshire Chess Association".
  20. ^ "New Hampshire Chess Association".

External links[edit]