Remembering Nature Writer Sue Hubbell, 1935-2018

The acclaimed author of A Country Year and A Book of Bees has passed away at 83.

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  • Photo Credit: Alchetron

It’s with great sadness that we announce 83-year-old author Sue Hubbell passed away on October 13, 2018. Hubbell was a renowned nature writer and memoirist, having published two critically-acclaimed nonfiction books about her life in the Missouri Ozarks. 

After leaving their university jobs in the 1970s, Hubbell and her first husband settled down in rural Missouri, where they established their own honey-making business. Hubbell continued to manage their 100-acre farm even after their divorce in 1983—a learning and healing experience she recounts in one of her most famous works, the 1986 essay collection A Country Year. As she struggled to come to terms with the dissolution of her 30-year marriage, Hubble found solace in the cyclical workings of plants, animals, and the seasons. Her charming anecdotes and reflections on nature, aging, solitude, and self-discovery display a wisdom and keen eye for detail that came to define her work.

Related: Inspiring Nonfiction Books About Nature and Animals 

In 1988, Hubbell followed the success of A Country Year with A Book of Bees—a manual about the ins and outs of beekeeping. But don’t be fooled by the title: As with its predecessor, she complements her advice with thought-provoking observations on the pleasures of country living and connecting to the natural world. It’s a useful introductory guide for aspiring beekeepers, to be sure, but it’s also an inspiring self-portrait of a woman in her element and a beautifully written memoir for readers of all interests.

Related: 20 of the Best New York Times Notable Books 

Hubbell wrote six other nonfiction titles, all ranging in subject matter—from the dangers of genetic engineering to bugs to the evolution of Earth's species. Each one features a seamless blend of nature and autobiographical writing that informs, entertains, and shines a light on the natural wonders too frequently overlooked. At the beginning of her writing career, Hubble also contributed nature-related articles to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch—something she would continue to do for major publications like The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Smithsonian. You can find a complete list of her books, articles, essays, and more on her website

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Featured image of Sue Hubbell: Alchetron