Bass was born in Fort Worth, Texas, U.S., the son of a geologist, and he studied petroleum geology at Utah State University. He grew up in Houston, and started writing short stories on his lunch breaks while working as a petroleum geologist in Jackson, Mississippi. In 1987, he moved with his wife, the artist Elizabeth Hughes Bass, to the remote Yaak Valley, where he works to protect his adopted home from roads and logging. Rick serves on the board of both the Yaak Valley Forest Council and Round River Conservation Studies. In 2011 Rick moved from the Yaak area of Montana to Missoula, Montana. He continues to give readings, write, and teach around the country and world. He lives in Montana with his family.
Rick Bass’ fiction has received O. Henry Awards, numerous Pushcart Prizes, awards from the Texas Institute of Letters (in fiction, creative nonfiction, and journalism categories), fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lyndhurst Foundation, the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters, a Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award, nominations for Pacific Northwest Booksellers Awards, and a Pen/Nelson Algren Special Citation, which was judged by Robert Penn Warren, and a General Electric Younger Writer’s Award. He has had numerous stories anthologized in Best American Short Stories: The Year’s Best. The Wild Marsh: Four Seasons At Home in Montana (Houghton Mifflin/Harcourt), a book about fathering daughters in the wilderness, has been excerpted in O, The Oprah Magazine. His nonfiction has been anthologized in Best American Spiritual Writing, Best Spiritual Writing, and Best American Travel Writing, and Best American Science Writing.Various of his books have been named New York Times as well as Los Angeles Times Notable Books of the Year, and a New York Times Best Book of the Year. A collection of short fiction, The Hermit’s Story, was named a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year, and another collection, The Lives of Rocks, was a finalist for the prestigious Story Prize, as well as a Best Book of the Year by the Rocky Mountain News. His most recent nonfiction book, Why I Came West, was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award. He is the recipient of a 2011 Montana Arts Council Artist’s Innovation Award.
His stories, articles and essays have appeared in The Paris Review, The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Narrative, Men’s Journal, Esquire, Gentlemen’s Quarterly, Harper’s, New York Times Sunday Magazine, Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine, Boston Globe, the Washington Post, Tin House, Zoetrope, Orion, and numerous other periodicals. He has served as a contributing editor to Audubon, OnEarth, Field & Stream, Big Sky Journal, and Sports Afield, and currently writes a regular column for Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, as well as for an online hunting magazine, Contemporary Sportsman.
“Rick Bass is a national treasure.”—Carl Hiassen
“Probably no American writer since Hemingway has written about man-in-nature more beautifully or powerfully than Rick Bass.”—Dallas Morning News, reviewing short fiction collection, The Hermit’s Story.
“Bass’s language glistens with the beauty of the landscape he evokes…His narration is pitch-perfect, and his writing so full of empathy for people and places that each story is a new revelation.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Rick Bass puts his talent as a nature writer to terrific use…His ability to map the inner lives of his characters is equally impressive.”—New York Times Book Review, on The Hermit’s Story.
“One of this country’s most intelligent and sensitive short story writers.”--New York Times Book Review
“Once again…Rick Bass draws us into his magical human worlds, rendered urgently by a hypnotic prose that tracks a parallel and untamed natural world, often with a trace of loss and always patrolled by unmistakable decency. He is a master of this form…”—Doug Peacock
“Bass is known primarily for his lucid and lyrical writing about nature, and this collection has plenty of that…But what makes this an compelling book are his finely detailed, complex characters, simple men and women crafted with sympathy and understanding.”—Publisher’s Weekly.
“Rick Bass is one of the best writers of his generation.”—George Plimpton
“…Bass’s writing is smooth and direct, without false start or stumble…He’s a true master of the short story.”—Dallas Morning News
“Compassionate and hard-hitting, knowledgeable and transcendent, Bass is essential.”—Booklist, starred review
“A sterling collection [The Lives of Rocks] of ten graceful stories connected through Bass’s invocation of elemental forces, but at the same time each is deliciously distinct.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review
“I’d choose Rick Bass over just about any other writer at work today.”—Christopher Tilghman, Los Angeles Times.
“Bass captures quiet human truths amidst his astonishing portraits of life in the wilderness.”—People Magazine
“Rick Bass is one of a dwindling handful of American fiction writers still celebrating the importance of place, the natural world, and the struggle of a few brave souls to live and work respectfully in what’s left of our western wilderness…The Lives of Rocks is his most lyrical and powerful book to date…a masterwork.”—Howard Frank Mosher
“Bass’s magnificent account of a year of life in the Yaak [The Wild Marsh] will leave you yearning for all the wonders of nature. This book could be a life-changer.”—Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods
“What a voice! True and desperate, and full of longing. These stories glint with rough magic.” –Joy Williams
“The Lives of Rocks digs deeply into the geology of the human condition. [These are] highly polished gems to be turned over in the mind, again and again.”—Seattle Times
“What’s exhilarating about Rick Bass’s stories is that they show every hallmark of ‘the natural’—that lucid, free-flowing, particularly American talent whose voice we can hear in Twain, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway.”—Chicago Tribune, front page review
University of Texas at Austin—Visiting professor, spring semester, 1990
Beloit College—Mackey Chair, Winter 1992
University of North Carolina at Wilmington—Graduate workshop in creative writing, Aug/Sept 2004
Environmental Writing Institute, University of Montana—Spring 1998
University of Montana, English Department—Fall 2011, William Kittredge Fellow
University of Montana, Environmental Humanities—Winter/Spring 2013—William Kittredge Chair
University of Southern Maine Stonecoast MFA Low-Residency Program—2011-present.
He has also taught in the low-residency program at Pacific University, and is currently teaching an annual workshop at Iowa State University. Recent teaching assignments have included an annual residency at Centennial Valley with Terry Tempest Williams, teaching graduate students from the University of Utah in a course titled “Residency of Place.”
Other conferences and workshops where I have taught include the North Cascades Institute, Bread Loaf, Writers at Work, Squaw Valley, Key West Literary Seminar, the Loft Literary Center, Interlochen Arts Academy, the 92nd Street YWCA, and dozens of others.
B.S. in Geology, with emphasis in Wildlife Management—Utah State University, December 1979
1979 Wildlife Biologist Intern—Weyerhaeuser Timber Co.—Hot Springs, Arkansas
1980-1985 Oil and gas geologist—Independent exploration and development company in Mississippi. Duties included generating and developing prospects as well as field work.
1986-1987 Oil and gas consultant, self-employed
1987-present Writer and lecturer