Carroll, David M.

Updated About content Print Article Share Article
views updated



Married; wife's name, Laurette (an artist); children: Sean, Riana, Rebecca. Education: Graduate of Boston Museum School of Fine Arts and Tufts University.


Home—P.O. Box 63, Warner, NH 03278-0063.


Artist, writer, naturalist, and lecturer. Has worked as an art teacher at high schools, at Nathaniel Hawthorne College, NH; Manchester Institute of Art, NH; and Very Special Arts, NH. Lecturer on turtle ecology, vernal pools, and other wetland habitants at numerous colleges, universities, conservation institutions, and libraries. Member of board of advisors, Mount Kearsage Indian Museum. Exhibitions: Works exhibited widely, including permanent collections at Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation and exhibitions, Dartmouth College Museum and Galleries, Plymouth State Art Gallery, and Dodd Center at the University of Connecticut.


Environmental Merit Award, Environmental Protection Agency, 1999; John Burroughs Medal for Literature in Nature Writing, 2001; Tudor Richards Award for outstanding contributions to conservation, Audubon Society of New Hampshire, 2001; honorary M.A. in environmental science from New England College; honorary D.H.L. from University of New Hampshire.


(And illustrator) The Year of the Turtle: A Natural History, Camden House (Charlotte, VT), 1991.

(And illustrator) Trout Reflections: A Natural History of the Trout and Its World, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1993.

(And illustrator) Swampwalker's Journal: A Wetlands Year, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1999.

(And illustrator) Self-Portrait with Turtles: A Memoir, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2004.

Illustrator of A Tree Hurts, Too, for Northeastern Forest Experiment Station/U.S. Forest Service/U.S. Department of Agriculture, Scribner (New York, NY), c. 1974. Contributor of articles to Wild Earth: The Journal of Wildlands Recovery and Protection.


Writing in the Boston Globe, Mark Wilson called David M. Carroll a "Renaissance naturalist" and noted that Carroll's ability to convey his love of nature "in prose and finely crafted pen and inks and watercolors proves that he is of Renaissance caliber." Carroll fell in love with nature when he moved from the city to the country at the age of eight. His fascination with the natural world led him to become an artist, author, and naturalist whose first three books he humorously calls his "wet sneaker trilogy," referring to his excursions into various wetlands. In his first book in the trilogy, The Year of the Turtle: A Natural History, Carroll takes the reader through a description of the yearly cycle of the freshwater turtle, illustrated with more than one hundred of the author's full-color drawings. Calling the book "fascinating," Smithsonian contributor Harry Middleton noted that Carroll's "pursuit of the spotted turtle becomes a panoramic view of the swamp, everything from beaver ponds and bogs to woodcocks stirring the cool air, from diving beetles to the delicate detail of cinnamon ferns."

The second book in the trilogy, Trout Reflections: A Natural History of the Trout and Its World, draws on Carroll's diary entries spanning more than forty years. In the book, Carroll recounts the yearly cycle and environment of trout, and once again complements the text with his own illustrations, including watercolor and line drawings. Carroll combines discussions of fishing, the environment, and natural history as he follows the trout from January 1 through December 31, covering the four seasons of New Hampshire trout streams. In the process, he discusses how the seasons affect the trout and their habitat and how the fish have adapted to their environment. Writing in the Conservationist, John Rowen noted that "Carroll has earned a spot on my list of the top ten angling writers." Rowen went on to comment, "Carroll writes majestically without being pompous. He writes grand, long paragraphs, each with a superb concluding sentence." A Publishers Weekly contributor pointed out that the author "seems to have a special affinity with nature" and praised Carroll for his "lyrical, detailed descriptions of the country-side and woods."

In Swampwalker's Journal: A Wetlands Year, the final book in the "wet sneaker" trilogy, Carroll includes 150 black-and-white line drawings as he conveys his passion for the swamps, bogs, and ponds inhabited by creatures such as frogs, snakes, muskrats, minks, and dragonflies. Carroll also describes the flora, including water lilies, cattails, and sedges. The year-long journey described by Carroll also includes descriptions of several types of wetlands. Writing in Booklist, Nancy Bent praised the book as "a worthy successor" to the previous books in the trilogy. A Publishers Weekly contributor called Carroll a "patient and gifted observer" and also noted that he has written a "lyrical and reflective book."

Carroll continued this reflective mode with his 2004 book, Self-Portrait with Turtles: A Memoir, which Booklist contributor Bent called "a wonderful blend of natural history, memoir, and drawings." Noting parallels in the life of American writer Henry David Thoreau at Walden Pond in Massachusetts during the nineteenth century, Carroll describes his earliest encounters with turtles and how these experiences led to his life as a naturalist. The reader also learns about the high school teacher who led him to dedicate his life to art, his ensuring years at art school in Boston, Massachusetts, and his life earning a relatively meager living as an artist and naturalist as he and his wife raised three children. Audubon contributor Christopher Camuto pointed out that Carroll "writes the best kind of natural history, combining keen observation on an intimate scale with far-reaching thoughts about the nature of nature." Calling the book a "pitch-perfect memoir," a Kirkus Reviews contributor commented that "throughout, his words have the ping of authenticity; Carroll is an environmentalist who lives the word right down to his wet sneakers."



Carroll, David M., Self-Portrait with Turtles: A Memoir, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2004.


American Scientist, May-June, 2004, David M. Carroll, excerpt from Self-Portrait with Turtles: A Memoir, p. 271.

Audubon, May, 2000, Christopher Camuto, review of Swampwalker's Journal: A Wetlands Year, p. 106.

Booklist, August, 1999, Nancy Bent, review of Swampwalker's Journal, p. 1996; February 15, 2004, Bent, review of Self-Portrait with Turtles, p. 1012.

Boston Globe, December 12, 1999, Mark Wilson, review of Swampwalker's Journal, p. 10.

Conservationist, February, 1995, John Rowen, review of Trout Reflections: A Natural History of the Trout and Its World, p. 37.

Entertainment Weekly, October 15, 1999, Daneet Steffens, review of Swampwalker's Journal, p. 74.

Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2004, review of Self-Portrait with Turtles, p. 21.

Library Journal, August, 1999, Nancy J. Moeckel, review of Swampwalker's Journal, p. 131.

Publishers Weekly, February 15, 1993, review of Trout Reflections, p. 226; July 5, 1999, review of Swampwalker's Journal, p. 50; January 12, 2004, review of Self-Portrait with Turtles, p. 46.

Smithsonian, January, 1992, Harry Middleton, review of The Year of the Turtle: A Natural History, p. 123; December, 1999, Emily d'Aulaire, review of Swampwalker's Journal, p. 155; March, 2004, Alina Corday-Taylor, review of Self-Portrait with Turtles, p. 115.


Carroll Studio Gallery Web site, (August 17, 2004).


Carroll, David M.