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Orion on the Dunes:

A Biography of Henry Beston


Rachel Carson was one of many readers who have appreciated the enduring insight and exquisite prose of  Henry Beston's The Outermost House since it was first published in 1928, writing that it was “among the books that I have loved best and that have influenced me the most.” It has never been out of print and has justly earned a reputation as one of the great classics of American nature writing.  Thomas Lyon, the editor of This Incomperable Land: A Book of American Nature Writing, compares The Outermost House to Thoreau’s Walden and Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire as a “talismanic book of solitude.” It was one of the inspirations behind the creation of the Cape Cod National Seashore in 1961 and, three years later, Beston's dune shack ("the Fo'castle"), located a short distance from the park’s new visitors center, was designated a National Literary Landmark. In 1978 the Fo'castle was washed out to sea in a great winter storm, but Beston's legacy lives on.



Available from David R. Godine, Publisher, August 2016.
Cover image by Nan Waldron, courtesy of Henry Beston Society, 3 Main St., Unit 31 P.O. Box 407North Eastham, MA 02651. Email:

"Thank heaven for this great account of one of the most receptive minds America has ever produced... the accounts he gave of a primeval world and its effects on the human imagination are more necessary than ever in our straitened moment." --Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature; The Age of Missing Information; Hope, Human, and Wild; and co-founder of

“A human life, so often likened to a spectacle upon a stage, is more justly a ritual. The ancient values of dignity, beauty, and poetry which sustain it are of Nature’s inspiration; they are born of the mystery and beauty of the world. Do no dishonour to the earth lest you dishonour the spirit of man.” 

Henry Beston, The Outermost House: A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod

Other books by Daniel G. Payne
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