Sea and Earth Essay - Critical Essays

Philip Sterling


Sea and Earth is one of a series of nine biographies, entitled Women in America, that was edited by Milton Meltzer. Sterling’s research in preparation for writing about the life of Carson progressed beyond the usual print sources of books, journals, reports, and newspapers that would reveal Carson’s stature as a writer and scientist. Instead, in order to portray the human interest side or, as Sterling refers to it, “an extra sense of the quality” of Carson’s life, he also made use of correspondence and interviews with her family members, friends, and teachers. The utilization of nonprint sources afforded Sterling the opportunity to gain personal information about Carson’s family and early life. In documenting his nonprint sources, Sterling has included a list of people and the time period of their association with Carson. He states, however, that no recall of persons was used without additional source confirmation. Photographs and copies of Carson’s childhood writings make this biography particularly interesting for younger readers and illustrate the progression of her interest in writing and nature. Sterling, through his descriptive writing, is able to convey a sense of the concerns of the times and how those concerns affected Carson at various stages in her life.

As evidenced by his use of sources, Sterling’s intent in writing this life story was not only to acknowledge Carson’s accomplishments but also to portray her in a personal fashion that would allow the reader to develop an understanding of her charac-ter. Thus, the biographer weaves...

(The entire section is 650 words.)