Biography of John Elder


Biography of John Elder


John Elder


Biography of John Elder, attending author at The New Nature Writing, Lake Forest College's 2012 Literary Festival.





Northern California


Author, Professor Emeritus at Middlebury College

Biographical Text

John Elder joined the Middlebury College faculty in 1973.  His original appointment was in English, followed by a split-appointment in English and American Literatures and in Environmental Studies.  Since 2007 he was appointed as a non-departmental College Professor.   Starting in 1981, he has also taught most summers at the Bread Loaf School of English, including at the Alaska, New Mexico, and North Carolina campuses as well as at the Mother Loaf.

John's special areas of interest as a teacher are in American nature writing, English Romantic Poetry, modern American poetry of nature, and Japan's haiku tradition.  In recent years, he has also enjoyed exploring the possibilities for service-learning and community-based education, through courses related to residents' sense of place in the nearby town of Starksboro and to the challenges and hopes of eleven Addison County farmers.  His three most recent books -- Reading the Mountains of Home, The Frog Run, and Pilgrimage to Vallombrosa -- have each combined discussion of literature, description of Vermont's landscape and natural history, and personal memoir.

With his wife Rita, a retired special educator, John lives in the village of Bristol.  They operate a sugarbush in Starksboro with their three grown children and two grandchildren and are active in state and local environmental efforts.


Pilgrimage to Vallombrosa: From Vermont to Italy in the Footsteps of George Perkins Marsh (University of Virginia Press) 2008

The Frog Run:Words and Wildness in the Vermont Woods (Milkweed Editions) 2002

Following the Brush: An American Encounter With Classical Japanese Culture (Akadine Press) 2000

Reading the Mountains of Home (Harvard University Press) 1999

Imagining the Earth: Poetry and the Vision of Nature (University of Georgia Press) 1996



“Biography of John Elder,” Digital Collections - Lake Forest College, accessed November 16, 2018,

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