Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Buckingham, Bucks County
Weiner's book The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time (1994) won the Pulitzer Prize in 1995.
Awards: Pulitzer Prize
Born in New York in 1953, Jonathan Weiner has written several books on the environment and evolution. He received the Pulitzer Prize for his most famous work, The Beak of the Finch (1994). He also has been a distinguished visiting professor at Princeton University. He has spent the last several years in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Jonathan Weiner was born in New York City in 1953. In his teens, the family moved to Providence, Rhode Island, where his father, a physicist, joined the faculty of Brown University. During his high school years, Weiner became infatuated with biology. In a 2002 speech at the University of Pennsylvania, Weiner admitted that he first attended Harvard in order to become a biologist, but he was overcome by a desire to write and obtained a degree in British and American Literature instead.
In 1979, Weiner was able to combine both of his passions, writing and biology, by accepting the position of editor of The Sciences. In the years following, Weiner taught at Rockefeller University, Arizona State University, and Princeton University. At Princeton, he became part of a prestigious group of professors, the McGraw Professors in Writing, and served on their Council for the Humanities. In addition to teaching, his prominent writing career has included publications in the New Yorker, New York Times, Naturalist, New Republic, and Washington Post.
Weiner’s first book, Planet Earth (1986), gives insight into global warming and the possibility of a “nuclear winter.” This book was also the companion book to an Emmy award-winning National Geographic television series that aired on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).
Weiner’s next book, The Next One Hundred Years, Shaping the Fate of our Living Earth (1990), discusses how Earth will be manipulated over the next century by global warming and ozone layer deterioration. The book was so widely hailed by critics that it was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 1990.
Jonathan Weiner’s most famous book was published in 1994 and entitled The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time. The book is about two scientists’ account of 21 years in the Galapagos Islands, where they were able to define evolution as an on-going process that alters wild populations by natural selection. This book received the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Science. Many critics view it as “the perfect sequel to Origin of Species.”
He published Time, Love, Memory: A Great Biologist and His Quest for the Origins of Behavior in 1999. In this book, he writes about a pioneer in the molecular biology field, Seymour Benzer, who, by studying generations of the fruit fly, discovered that genes play a role in our body clock, our sexuality, and our ability to learn from experiences. Based on Benzer’s evidence, Weiner believes that “Time, love, and memory are... three cornerstones of the pyramid of behavior.”
Weiner currently lives in Buckingham, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Deborah and their two sons, Aaron and Benjamin. In 1999 Weiner was honored for his writing by the Athenaeum of Philadelphia—a special collection library dedicated to preserving the history of the city. Today, he is an active member of the greater Philadelphia community, where he lectures on a variety of topics.
Planet Earth. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, 1986.
The Next One Hundred Year, Shaping the Fate of our Living Earth. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, 1990.
The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time. New York: Alfred A. Knopf Inc., 1994.
Introduction to Alan Magee Retrospective by Alan Magee. New York: Graphis Pr, 2003.
Time, Love, Memory: A Great Biologist and His Quest for the Origins of Behavior. New York: Alfred A. Knopf Inc., 1999.
Planet Earth/The Companion Volume to the PBS Television Series. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, 1986.
Chiappinelli, Bob. “The Evolution of an Award-Winning Science Writer.” The Providence Journal 16 May 1995: news section.