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My First Summer in the Sierra, by John Muir, Yolla Bolly Press

{Ed Note: This is the last installment from DlphcOracl looking at the wonderful work done by the Yolla Bolly Press.  In this article, we look at My First Summer in the Sierra, by John Muir.  Previous posts on Yolla Bolly Press are herehere and here.}

John Muir (1838-1914) was born in Scotland and in 1849 his family emigrated to the United States, starting a farm in Wisconsin.  In 1864 Muir traveled to Canada to avoid the draft for the Civil War and spent his time wandering in the woods and swamps around Lake Huron collecting plants. After returning to the U.S. in 1866, he eventually found his way to California in early 1868. After arriving in San Francisco, Muir immediately took a week-long visit to Yosemite in which he referred to Yosemite as “the grandest of all special temples of Nature.”

Muir returned to Yosemite in the summer of 1869 to work as a shepherd for a season, supervising a San Joaquin sheep owner’s flock at the headwaters of the Merced and Tuolumne rivers, guiding the flock into the high country.  He climbed a number of mountains in the Sierra range including Cathedral Peak and hiked the old Indian trail down Bloody Canyon to Mono Lake. This experience proved to be a seminal event for John Muir as he subsequently built and lived in a cabin along Yosemite Creek for two years.  Muir recorded his experiences and sketches  in a blue notebook but would not organize his writings into a book until 40 years later. This book, My First Summer in the Sierra, is a celebration of nature and it is filled with the awe and excitement of a man seeing a uniquely beautiful and unfamiliar corner of the world for the first time.  It remains one of the greatest works of literature in the genre of nature writing.

Muir subsequently became a passionate preservationist and on September 30, 1890, he was instrumental in the passage of a U.S. Congressional bill excluding domestic livestock from Yosemite Valley and the Sierra.  In 1892 he co-founded the Sierra Club, subsequently becoming increasingly active politically to preserve wilderness.  In 1903 Muir accompanied President Theodore Roosevelt on a visit to Yosemite, convincing Roosevelt that federal control and management of Yosemite Valley was essential for its protection.

About the Edition

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of Muir’s birth, the Yolla Bolly press printed a deluxe limited edition of Muir’s first work, My First Summer in the Sierra.  They commissioned a set of original illustrations made from wood engravings by Michael McCurdy.  In preparation, McCurdy spent the summer of 1987 in the Sierra retracing Muir’s footsteps nearly one hundred years later, taking his own set of photographs and sketches.  Using these, in combination with Muir’s original sketches, McCurdy produced an extraordinary set of twelve woodcut illustrations for this edition.

Pictures

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My First Summer in the Sierra, Yolla Bolly Press, Prospectus Page 1
My First Summer in the Sierra, Yolla Bolly Press, Prospectus Last Page
My First Summer in the Sierra, Yolla Bolly Press, Slipcase, paper over boards
My First Summer in the Sierra, Yolla Bolly Press, Spine of slipcase with paper label
My First Summer in the Sierra, Yolla Bolly Press, Handwoven linen fabric over boards, book spine, with abstract design simulating a forest
My First Summer in the Sierra, Yolla Bolly Press, Handwoven linen fabric over boards, front cover
My First Summer in the Sierra, Yolla Bolly Press, Bark paper end sheets handmade in Mexico
My First Summer in the Sierra, Yolla Bolly Press, Title Page
My First Summer in the Sierra, Yolla Bolly Press, Table of Contents
My First Summer in the Sierra, Yolla Bolly Press, Opening page, chapter one
My First Summer in the Sierra, Yolla Bolly Press, Sample Page with Text
My First Summer in the Sierra, Yolla Bolly Press, Opening Page, Chapter Two
My First Summer in the Sierra, Yolla Bolly Press, Sample woodcut illustration #1
My Summer in the Sierra, Yolla Bolly Press, Sample woodcut illustration #2
My First Summer in the Sierra, Yolla Bolly Press, Opening Page, Chapter Five
My First Summer in the Sierra, Yolla Bolly Press, Opening Page, Sample Woodcut Illustration #3
My First Summer in the Sierra, Yolla Bolly Press, Opening Page, Colophon
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