Outdoor Literature


Outdoor Generations & Types






Authors & Outdoor Personalities:  A Generational Analysis


The following generational types have been adapted from: Strauss, William and Howe, Neil. Generations: The History of America's Future. New York: William Morrow, 1991.  See also: "Generational Analysis"

An asterisk (*) below indicates an author or outdoor personality from the Primary List of Authors & Outdoor Personalities studied in the Survey of Outdoor Education Literature course.


Transcendental Generation (b. 1792-1821)

Generation Type: Idealist

Outdoor Profile: Budding interest in the appreciation of outdoors & outdoor activity


Henry David Thoreau* (1817-1862)  Writer:  Walden.

Thomas Cole (1801-1848)  Father of the Hudson River School of Painting: Landscape with Tree Trunks, etc.


Gilded Generation (b. 1822-1842)

Generation Type: Reactive

Outdoor Profile: Golden age of mountaineering & exploration of the American West


Mark Twain* (1835-1910)  Writer:  Roughing It, etc.

Edward Whymper* (1840-1911)  Climber & Writer:  Scrambles Amongst the Alps.

John Wesley Powell* (1834-1902)  Explorer:  The Exploration of the Colorado.

Isabella Bird* (1832-1904)  Adventure Travel & Writer:  A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains.

John Muir* (1838-1914)  Mountaineer & Hiker:  Steep Trails, etc.

Albert Bierstadt (1820-1902) Painter: "Wind River Country," "Buffalo Trail."

Thomas Moran (1837-1926) Painter: "Grand Canon of the Yellowstone," "Chasm of the Colorado."


Progressive Generation (b. 1843-1859)

Generation Type: Adaptive

Outdoor Profile: Outdoor interest wanes


Fanny Bullock Workman (1859-1925) Bicyclist & Climber.  Sets female elevation record.


Missionary Generation (b. 1860-1882)

Generation Type: Idealist

Outdoor Profile:  Great interest in outdoor adventure and exploration


Mary Kingsley* (1862-1900)  Adventure Travel:  Travels in West Africa.

Alexandra David-Néel (1868-1969) French explorer, visited Lhasa, Tibet in 1924.

Fridfjof Nansen (1861-1930)  Norwegian arctic explorer: First Greenland crossing.  Farthest north, 1895.

Fredrick Cook (1865-1940) Attempted Mt. McKinley. Arctic expeditions in 1891-92, 1897-99, 1908.

Robert Falcon Scott* (1868-1912)  Arctic Explorer:  Journals of Robert Falcon Scott.

Roald Amundsen* (1872-1928)  Arctic Explorer:  First to reach the South Pole.

Robert Service* (1874-1958)  Poet of the Klondike gold rush: The Call of the Wild.

Jack London* (1876-1916)  Writer:  To Build a Fire.

Sir Ernest Shackleton* (1874-1922)  Arctic  Explorer:  Arctic seas open boat journey.

Sir Douglas Mawson (1882-1958)  Explorer: First to reach the magnetic south pole.

Albert McCarthy (1876-1956)  Leader of first ascent of Logan.  Following year, went to Alps and made 100 ascents.

Franklin Spaulding (1865-1914)  Leader of the first Grand Teton Ascent.


Lost Generation (b. 1883-1900)

Generation Type: Reactive

Outdoor Profile:  WW I causes an interruption in exploration, but interest remains and some notable personalities, writers and spokesmen emerge


George Mallory* (1886-1924)  Explorer & Climber.  Disappeared on Everest.

Kurt Hahn (1886-)  Founder of Outward Bound.

Aldo Leopold* (1886-1948)  Outdoorsman & Writer: Sand CountyAlmanac.

Sigurd Olson* (1899-1982)  Canoeist & Writer:  The Singing Wilderness.

Phyllis Munday (1898- 1990)  Famous Canadian climber.  Commemorated on a 1998 postal stamp.


GI Generation (b. 1901-1924)

Generation Type: Civic

Outdoor Profile:  Members of the GI Generation are fighting a war and building institutions.  Except for some notable exceptions, over-all public interest in outdoor activities wanes


Sir Edmund Hillary (1919-)  First to reach the summit of Everest and return, 1953.

Paul Petzoldt (1908-1999)  Well known American mountaineer.  Teton & Himalayan climber. 

Walt Blackadar* (1922-1978)  One of the whitewater world's most famous personalities.

Betty Woolsey (1913-1997) Climber and backcountry ski pioneer in the Tetons.

Monica Jackson  (1920-) Member of the first all-women's expedition to Himalayas in 1955.

Colin Fletcher* (1922-)  Backpacker & writer:  The Man Who Walked Through Time.


Silent Generation (b. 1925-1942)

Generation Type: Adaptive

Outdoor Profile: Over-all public interest in outdoor activities continues to drop as the country settles into a quiet, conformist mood.


Edward Abbey* (1927-1989)  Writer. Desert Solitaire.

Jim Whittaker (1929-)  First American to climb Everest - 1963 (A Life on the Edge).

Willie Unsoeld (1926-1979)  Pioneered the West Ridge of Everest during the 1963 American Expedition.

Roland Huntford* (n.d.) Biographer: Shackleton

Yvon Chouinard (1938-)  Prominent climber and outdoor businessman.  Founded Patagonia. (Climbing Ice).


Boom Generation (b. 1943-1960)

Generation Type: Idealist

Outdoor Profile:  Sharp growth in outdoor activities, and interest in nature and wilderness


Jon Krakauer* (1954-)  Mountaineer and writer, Into Thin Air

Scott Fischer (1956-1996)  Mountaineer & owner of Mountain Madness

Reinhold Messner (1944-)  First to climb all 8,000 meter peaks without oxygen.

Wanda Rutkiewicz (1943-1992)  Legendary woman climber.  First woman to climb K2. 

Rob Lesser (1945-)  Renowned big water kayaker.  First Inductee to Whitewater Hall of Fame.

Terry Tempest Williams (1955-) Prominent woman nature writer from Utah. (Refuge).

Annie Dillard (1945-) Prominent nature writer. (Pilgrim at Tinker Creek).

Whit Deschner (1948- ) Whitewater kayaker and humorist.  (Does the Wet Suit You?).

David Hays (1947-1999) Writer & philosopher from Island Park, Idaho (Passion Below Zero)

Generation X (b. 1961-1981)

Generation Type: Reactive

Outdoor Profile:  Participation levels continue to increase and risk level increases greatly


Pam Houston (1962-)  Short story writer.  (Cowboys are My Weakness)

Mark Twight (1961-.)  Extreme climber & mountaineer.  (Kiss or Kill: Confessions of a Serial Climber)

Lynn Hill (1961-)  Rock Climber.  First free ascent of El Capitan's Nose in Yosemite.

Hans Florine (1964-) Speed Climber.  (Speed Climbing: How to Climb Faster and Better)

Göran Kropp (1966–2002)  Biked from Sweden, soloed Everest without oxygen, rode home.


Millennial (b. 1982 -)

Generation Type: Civic

Outdoor Profile:  Interest in outdoor activities is projected to wane



Return to: Outdoor Literature Course Main Page






Top of Page