Henry Beston

American writer (1888-1968)

Henry Beston (June 1, 1888 – April 15, 1968) was an American writer and naturalist, best known as the author of The Outermost House, written in 1928.


  • We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.
    • p. 25: Ch 2
  • The three great elemental sounds in nature are the sound of rain, the sound of wind in a primeval wood, and the sound of outer ocean on a beach. I have heard them all, and of the three elemental voices, that of ocean is the most awesome, beautiful and varied.”
  • The house was full of the sound of the gale. It was a winter northeaster, furious with wind and snow, and driving down against us from the dark and desolate North Atlantic and a thousand miles of whitecaps and slavering foam.
    • p. 16
  • Every year at the farm I watch the insect kingdom come into its northern being, flourish in what we have of heat and sun, live out its myriad life, and disappear almost as if it had never been.

Quotes about Beston

  • On his own land or on others', he sought the company of rural people. In their husbandry he found the "poignant and poetic recognition of the long continuity of man" that was his own real calling.
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