World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Outdoor literature

Article Id: WHEBN0002588267
Reproduction Date:

Title: Outdoor literature  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Outdoor literature, Hiking, Ecosemiotics, Arts-based environmental education, Environmental hermeneutics
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Outdoor literature

Map of Robert Louis Stevenson's walking route, taken from Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes(1879), a pioneering classic of outdoor literature

Outdoor literature is a literature genre about or involving the outdoors. Outdoor literature encompasses several different sub-genres including exploration literature, adventure literature, mountain literature and nature writing. Another sub-genre is the guide book, an early example of which was Thomas West's guide to the Lake District published in 1778.[1] The genres can include activities such as exploration, survival, sailing, hiking, mountaineering, whitewater boating, geocaching or kayaking, or writing about nature and the environment. Travel literature is similar to outdoor literature but differs in that it does not always deal with the out-of-doors, but there is a considerable overlap between these genres, in particular with regard to long journeys.


Henry David Thoreau's Walden (1854) is an early and influential work. Although not entirely an outdoor work (he lived in a cabin close to civilization) he expressed the ideas of why people go out into the wilderness to camp, backpack and hike: to get away from the rush of modern society and simplify life. This was a new perspective for the time and thus Walden has had a lasting influence on most outdoor authors.
Thoreau's careful observations and devastating conclusions have rippled into time, becoming stronger as the weaknesses Thoreau noted have become more pronounced […] Events that seem to be completely unrelated to his stay at Walden Pond have been influenced by it, including the national park system, the British labor movement, the creation of India, the civil rights movement, the hippie revolution, the environmental movement, and the wilderness movement. Today, Thoreau's words are quoted with feeling by liberals, socialists, anarchists, libertarians, and conservatives alike.

Robert Louis Stevenson's Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes (1879), about his travels in Cévennes (France), is among the first popular books to present hiking and camping as recreational activities, and tells of commissioning one of the first sleeping bags.[3]

In the world of sailing Joshua Slocum's Sailing Alone Around the World (1900) is a classic of outdoor literature.[4] On April 1895, Joshua Slocum set sail from Boston, Massachusetts and in Sailing Alone Around the World,[5] he described his departure:
I had resolved on a voyage around the world, and as the wind on the morning of April 24, 1895 was fair, at noon I weighed anchor, set sail, and filled away from Boston, where the Spray had been moored snugly all winter. […] A thrilling pulse beat high in me. My step was light on deck in the crisp air. I felt there could be no turning back, and that I was engaging in an adventure the meaning of which I thoroughly understood.

More than three years later, on June 27, 1898, he returned to Newport, Rhode Island, having circumnavigated the world, a distance of more than 46,000 miles (74,000 km).

The National Outdoor Book Award was established in 1997 as a US-based non-profit program which each year honors the best in outdoor writing and publishing.[6]

Outdoor classics

  • Pre-19th Century
  • 19th Century
    • John MacGregor (1866). A Thousand Miles in a Rob Roy Canoe. Considered the first documentation of recreational canoeing.
    • Edward Whymper (1871). Scrambles Amongst the Alps in the Years 1860-1869
    • Mark Twain (1872). Roughing It. Part real part fiction, classic account of life in the American Old West.

See also


  1. ^ Thomas West, (1821) [1778]. A Guide to the Lakes in Cumberland, Westmorland, and Lancashire. Kendal: W. Pennington.
  2. ^ Analysis and Notes on Walden
  3. ^ Travel with a Donkey in the Cevennes (1879); Re the first sleeping bag in 1876 [1]
  4. ^ Joshua Slocum Society: [2].
  5. ^ Slocum (1899), Sailing Alone Around the World
  6. ^ National Outdoor Book Awards Official site:[3].

External links

  • National Outdoor Book Awards
  • American Journeys, collection of primary exploration accounts of the Americas.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.