Barry Lopez was born in 1945 in Port Chester, New York. He grew up in Southern California and New York City and attended college in the Midwest before moving to Oregon, where he has lived since 1968. He is an essayist, author, and short-story writer, and has traveled extensively in remote and populated parts of the world.
He is the author of Arctic Dreams, for which he received the National Book Award; Of Wolves and Men, a National Book Award finalist, for which he received the John Burroughs and Christopher medals; and eight works of fiction, including Light Action in the Caribbean, Field Notes, and Resistance. His essays are collected in two books, Crossing Open Ground and About This Life. He contributes regularly to Harper's, Granta, The Georgia Review, Orion, Outside, The Paris Review, Manoa and other publications in the United States and abroad. His work is widely translated and appears in dozens of anthologies, including Best American Essays, Best Spiritual Writing, Best American Magazine Writing, and Best American Non-Required Reading, as well as the “best” collections from National Geographic, Outside, The Georgia Review, The Paris Review, and other periodicals.
His most recent books are Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape (2006), a reader's dictionary of regional landscape terms, which he edited with Debra Gwartney, and Outside (2015), a collection of six stories with engravings by Barry Moser.
In his nonfiction, Mr. Lopez writes often about the relationship between the physical landscape and human culture. In his fiction, he frequently addresses issues of intimacy, ethics, and identity. His first stories were published in 1966. He has been a full-time writer since leaving graduate school in 1970 but occasionally accepts invitations to teach and lecture. He has served as the Welch Professor of American Studies at the University of Notre Dame and the Glenn Distinguished Professor at Washington & Lee University. He has also taught at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and other venues, and read or spoken at nearly a hundred universities. He travels regularly to Texas Tech University where he is the university's Visiting Distinguished Scholar.
Mr. Lopez, who was active as a landscape photographer prior to 1981, maintains close ties with a diverse community of artists. (See Jim Warren's Other Country: Barry Lopez and the Community of Artists.) He has collaborated with the composer John Luther Adams on several theater and concert productions, has spoken at exhibitions of the work of sculptor Michael Singer and photographer Robert Adams, and has written about painter Alan Magee, artists Lillian Pitt and Rick Bartow, and potter Richard Rowland. He has also collaborated with playwright Jim Leonard, Jr., on a production of his illustrated fable Crow and Weasel, which opened at The Children’s Theatre in Minneapolis, and worked on a production of Coyote at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., a play based on his book Giving Birth to Thunder. The fine press limited editions he's collaborated on most recently, include Apologia and The Letters of Heaven, both with artist Robin Eschner; The Mappist and Anotaciones, with book artist Charles Hobson, and Six Thousand Lessons with designer Sandy Tilcock. These and other of his fine press limited editions are in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum, the National Gallery, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the New York Public Library, Stanford, Yale, and other universities and institutions.
Mr. Lopez is a recipient of the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the John Hay Medal, Guggenheim, Lannan, and National Science Foundation fellowships, Pushcart Prizes in fiction and nonfiction, the St. Francis of Assisi Award from DePaul University, the Denise Levertov Award from Image magazine, and honors from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the Association of American Geographers, the New York Public Library, the Nature Conservancy, and the American Society of Magazine Editors. In 2002 he was elected a Fellow of The Explorers Club.
Mr. Lopez lives on the upper McKenzie River on the west slope of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon, with his wife, the writer Debra Gwartney.