To research books, films and articles, Sy Montgomery has been chased by an angry silverback gorilla in Zaire and bitten by a vampire bat in Costa Rica, worked in a pit crawling with 18,000 snakes in Manitoba and handled a wild tarantula in French Guiana.
She has been deftly undressed by an orangutan in Borneo, hunted by a tiger in India, and swum with piranhas, electric eels and dolphins in the Amazon. She has searched the Altai Mountains of Mongolia’s Gobi for snow leopards, hiked into the trackless cloud forest of Papua New Guinea to radiocollar tree kangaroos, and learned to SCUBA dive in order to commune with octopuses.
Sy’s 34 books for both adults and children have garnered many honors. The Soul of an Octopus was a 2015 Finalist for the National Book Awards. The Good Good Pig, her memoir of life with her pig, Christopher Hogwood, is an international bestseller. She is the winner of the 2009 New England Independent Booksellers Association Nonfiction Award, the 2010 Children’s Book Guild Nonfiction Award, the Henry Bergh Award for Nonfiction (given by the ASPCA for Humane Education) and dozens of other honors. Her work with the man-eating tigers, the subject of her book Spell Of The Tiger, was made into in a National Geographic television documentary she scripted and narrated. Also for National Geographic TV she developed and scripted Mother Bear Man, about her friend, Ben Kilham, who raises and releases orphaned bear cubs, which won a Chris award.
Sy writes for adults and children, for print and broadcast, in America and overseas in an effort to reach as wide an audience as possible at what she considers a critical turning point in human history. “We are on the cusp of either destroying this sweet, green Earth—or revolutionizing the way we understand the rest of animate creation,” she says. “It’s an important time to be writing about the connections we share with our fellow creatures. It’s a great time to be alive.” She speaks frequently at schools and museums, libraries and universities.
She is a 1979 graduate of Syracuse University, a triple major with dual degrees in Magazine Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and in French Language and Literature and in Psychology from the College of Arts and Sciences. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Keene State College in 2004, and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Franklin Pierce University and also from Southern New Hampshire University in 2011.
“Equal parts poet and scientist.”
—The New York Times
“Part Indiana Jones and part Emily Dickinson.”
—The Boston Globe
“Sy Montgomery has insight into the Others that every nature writer on this continent envies. I am no exception. Clear, emotionally telling and always right to the point, her accounts of the other forms of life are without peer.”
—Farley Mowat, author of Never Cry Wolf
— 2021 Sarah Josepha Hale Award (to a New England author for “a distinguished body of work in the field of literature and Letters”).
— 2021 named a Literary Light by the Associates of the Boston Public Library.
— 2019 Earthwatch International Travel Fellowship (to join Tracking Wild Dogs expedition in Thailand.)
— 2019 Riverby Award for Children’s literature from John Burroughs Association, for The Magnificent Migration.
— 2017 Thoreau Prize, granted to “an accomplished writer who… embodies the spirit of Thoreau.”
— CBS Sunday Morning for The Soul of an Octopus, 2020
— Alan Alda’s Clear and Vivid podcast for The Soul of an Octopus, 2020
— The Ezra Klein Show podcast for The Soul of an Octopus, 2021
— Regularly featured monthly guest contributor on Boston Public Radio’s “The Afternoon Zoo” with hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan (WGBH).
— Book reviewer for The New York Times and The American Scholar.
Young people in school or just starting out often ask me for an account of how I got into writing about animals for a living. Here is an updated, detailed account I wrote a few years ago in response to such a request: Sy Autobiographical Account-converted
Follow “The Voyages of Sy Montgomery.”
Sam Matey has mapped Sy’s travels to write her 35 books. You can catch up with Sam Matey at his Substack newsletter sammatey.substack.com or email him: email@example.com
Enlarge the map below and click on a critter. Start with the Euro-Hippo: