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The Story of My Boyhood and Youth

John Muir

Book Overview: 

“The only fire for the whole house was the kitchen stove, with a fire box about eighteen inches long and eight inches wide and deep,- scant space for three or four small sticks, around which in hard zero weather all the family of ten shivered, and beneath which in the morning we found our socks and coarse, soggy boots frozen solid.” Thus, with perceptive eye for detail, the American naturalist, John Muir, describes life on a pioneer Wisconsin farm in the 1850’s. Muir was only eleven years old when his father uprooted the family from a relatively comfortable life in Dunbar, Scotland, to settle in the backwoods of North America.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .nothing he could say could cloud our joy or abate the fire of [55]youthful, hopeful, fearless adventure. Nor could we in the midst of such measureless excitement see or feel the shadows and sorrows of his darkening old age. To my schoolmates, met that night on the street, I shouted the glorious news, "I'm gan to Amaraka the morn!" None could believe it. I said, "Weel, just you see if I am at the skule the morn!"

Next morning we went by rail to Glasgow and thence joyfully sailed away from beloved Scotland, flying to our fortunes on the wings of the winds, care-free as thistle seeds. We could not then know what we were leaving, what we were to encounter in the New World, nor what our gains were likely to be. We were too young and full of hope for fear or regret, but not too young to look forward with eager enthusiasm to the wonderful schoolless bookless American wilderness. Even the natural heart-pain of parting from grandfather and grandmother Gilrye, who loved u. . . Read More

Community Reviews

John Muir’s memoir is a reflective archive of a life lived both as a boy in 19th century Scotland and as a teenage immigrant to the wilderness of Wisconsin. Much of his account, whilst fascinating to the modern reader in how starkly different life as a child in Scotland and indeed America is today a

John Muir’s personal accounts of moving from Scotland to Wisconsin interested me as I spent at least 15 years of my youth in Wisconsin. I could relate to his description of Winter and some of the birds and other wildlife. The more I learn of Muir— my interest grows as I have a fondness for nature an

This is a book I re-read, this time for a book group, where each student read a different book by a naturalist. They’ve been studying nature writing and the teacher wanted to take them deeper into how the writers were changed by their own environment, thus the group and talk about how we also might

Growing up in Northern California and an often as possible visitor to Yosemite National Park I became acquainted with the legend of naturalist John Muir and his life’s dedication and accomplishments in protecting the environment and its animal occupants. This autobiography of his youthful years does

So as well as being the father of the national parks, a fearless wanderer, a raconteur, a force for all that is good in the world, John Muir was also Caractacus Potts. This book recounts his childhood from his earliest days in Dunbar, Scotland, the family's move to Wisconsin where they set up their

Work hard, and notice everything.

What a soul stirring and uplifting, even spiritual experiences I had while going through the wondrous and magical moments of young Muir.
His strict, Christian upbringing, thrashing at home and school couldn't kill the wildness and spirit of living, the young lad had. The thrill of running around, pla

After reading Alaska Days with John Muir, written by his friend and traveling companion Samuel Young, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Muir's own account of his early life: beginning in East Lothian, Scotland, where he was born in 1838; immigrated with his father and brother to America in 1849; settled

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