For a couple of years now I've occasionally shared an essay by the late naturalist writer Hal Borland here on the blog. Yesterday I got a comment from Neil (Yorkshire Pudding) asking me if there was any evidence that Borland was strongly religious as he had such a feeling for Nature and the passing of the seasons. I had never considered the question and my first impulse was to say no, that he was not, but I decided to do a little internet research to see. I didn't recall ever seeing any mention of religion in his writings.
Here's the quick Wikipedia summary of his life and work:
Harold "Hal" Glen Borland (May 14, 1900 – February 22, 1978) was an American author, journalist and naturalist. In addition to writing many non-fiction and fiction books about the outdoors, he was a staff writer and editorialist for The New York Times.
Borland was born on the plains in Sterling, Nebraska, to Sarah M (née Clinaburg) and William Arthur Borland. When Hal was 10, the family moved 30 miles south of Brush, Colorado, where his father staked out a homesteader's claim on the prairie. Hal later detailed his experience on the homestead in his book "High, Wide, and Lonesome." After proving out on the homestead claim, his father sold the homestead and bought a weekly newspaper in Flagler, Colorado, where Hal finished his school years. This experience is detailed in his book "Country Editor's Boy." After attending local schools, he studied at the University of Colorado from 1918-1920, majoring in engineering. While there, he held jobs at the Denver Post and the Flagler News. It was during this time he realized his true calling was as an author, and he soon moved to New York where he studied journalism and graduated from Columbia University in 1923 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature.
Borland started writing as a journalist for publications such as The Denver Post and the Flagler News. While attending Columbia University he wrote for the Brooklyn Times, the United Press, and King Features Service. After graduation Borland worked for a variety of newspapers across the United States, eventually settling in Philadelphia and working for Curtis Newspapers, the Philadelphia Morning Sun, and the Philadelphia Morning Ledger from 1926 until 1937.
In 1937 Borland began writing for The New York Times, first as a staff writer for The New York Times Sunday Magazine (1937-1943) and then in 1942 as an editorial writer for The New York Sunday Times, a position he held until his death in 1978. While at The Times, Borland began writing about his experience as an outdoorsman in a series of editorials that were later compiled into two books. He wrote similar pieces for the Berkshire Eagle (1958-1978), Pittsburgh Press (1966-1978), and Torrington Register (1971-1978).
Borland also wrote short stories, poetry, novels (including westerns under the pseudonym Ward West), biographical novels, non-fiction, articles for a variety of magazines, and one play.
Awards and honors
- Meeman Award for Conservation Writing (1966)
- John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Nature Writing (1968)
- Interpretive Naturalists Award (1973)
Borland was married twice, to Helen Alice née Le Bene until her death in 1944, and to Barbara Ross née Dodge until Borland's death in 1978. Both of his wives were also writers. Borland and Helen had three sons, Harold Glen Jr. (1925-1963), Donal William (1929-2017), and Neil Frederick (1929-1944).