Edward Abbey was born in the town of Indiana, Pennsylvania on January 29, 1927. He grew up around the nearby village of Home, which now has a state historical marker commemorating Abbey. After a brief military career 1945-1947 in Naples, Italy he attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
In 1944 at age 17 he left the family farm in Home and set off to see the American West. He hitchhiked and rode the rails--across the Midwest to the Rockies and the West Coast, returning by way of the Southwest. He fell in love with the desert, a love that shaped his life and art for more than 40 years. For 15 years and well into his forties, he worked as a part-time ranger and fire lookout at several different national parks, his two seasons as a ranger at Arches National Monument (later a national park) in Utah providing the inspiration and raw material for Desert Solitaire.
In 1987, Edward Abbey was offered a major award by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Abbey declined the honor. He died in 1989.