Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  May Theilgaard Watts  

Pen Name: May Petrea Theilgaard Watts

Genre: Non-Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1893 in Chicago, Illinois

-- May Theilgaard Watts on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

May Watts grew up in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois.

Biographical and Professional Information

May began a teaching career in a one-room schoolhouse outside of the city. She attended college during the summer at the University of Chicago, where she studied botany and ecology with Henry Chandler Cowles. Watts graduated in 1918 as a Phi Beta Kappa.She has had the May T. Watts Nature Park in Highland Park, Illinois, and the May Watts Elementary School in Naperville, Illinois, named after her. Her house in Highland Park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.The May Theilgaard Watts Reading Garden of Morton Arboretum was named for her in 1963.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Reading the Landscape of America
ISBN: 0912550236

Nature Study Guild Publishers. 1999

In this natural history classic, the author takes the reader on field trips to landscapes across America, both domesticated and wild. She shows how to read the stories written in the land, interpreting the clues laid down by history, culture, and natural forces. A renowned teacher, writer and conservationist in her native Midwest, Watts studied with Henry Cowles, the pioneering American ecologist. She was the first to explain his theories of plant succesion to the general public. Her graceful, witty essays, with charming illustrations by the author, are still relevant and engaging today, as she invites us to see the world around us with fresh eyes.

Reading the Landscape of Europe
ISBN: 0912550309

Nature Study Guild Publishers. 2009

Take a field trip with American naturalist May Theilgaard Watts to see how nature, history, and culture have written their stories on the landscapes of Italy, France, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Norway, and Britain. In this sequel to her popular book Reading the Landscape of America, Watts explores the hills of Italy, the grouse heath of Yorkshire, the Black Forest of Germany, the limestone plateaus of France, and much more, explaining the forces that shaped these landscapes and continue to change them. She draws on botany, ecology, and geography, but also literature and folklore, to interpret the clues written on the land, as she considers the shapes of rooflines and coastlines, the ecology of forests and hedgerows, or the design of a vegetable plot. Illustrated with pen and ink drawings by the author. Includes a key to identifying the trees of Europe.

Speaking Engagements

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