Rebecca Solnit (b. 1961)

American journalist and author. Born in San Francisco, Solnit skipped high school altogether, instead passing the GED exam at sixteen, taking classes in a junior college, living for a time in Paris, and, at the age of twenty, completing her B.A. at San Francisco State University. She earned her master’s in journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1984. Since then she has been a journalist, an activist for environmental and human-rights causes, and the author of a dozen books. Solnit’s subjects span a remarkable range, from art history to human wanderlust to utopian projects. Her River of Shadows (2003), a study of the pioneering nineteenth-century photographer Eadweard Muybridge, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. Solnit’s most recent book is A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster (2009). See also believermag.com.