10 Things You Should Know About Rachel Carson


She Studied English and Biology

Rachel Carson Silent Spring
When Rachel Carson attended Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham University) she first majored in English, but soon changed her studies to marine biology. George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images

When Carson was young, she read constantly and wrote nearly as often. She composed short prose pieces and essays. She would later say that she couldn't remember a time when she didn't know she was going to be a writer. She wasn't sure why this was, only that it presented itself as a done deal, an inevitable, inborn vocation.

So it's no surprise that when she went to Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham University) she majored in English. But partway through her studies, she took a biology class and became enamored by her professor, Mary Scott Skinker. So powerful was Skinker's influence that Carson switched majors and landed a summer internship working with her professor at the U.S. Marine Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts [source: rachelcarson.org].

That was to be her first encounter with the ocean. It was a momentous meeting. Although she's best known for "Silent Spring," Carson's lifelong passion and the subject of most of her work, was the ocean. And in the end, she didn't so much leave English behind for biology, but instead she fused the two interests into a career as a science writer.