Leslie Carol Roberts was born in New Jersey and grew up in Maryland and Michigan. She spent her childhood outside in the Maryland countryside before her family moved to Grosse Pointe, Michigan, outside Detroit. During her senior year of high school, Leslie broke her neck in a horrific car accident and had to undergo extensive surgery and rehabilitation to learn to use her arms again. During this recovery time, she attended Wayne State University, where she studied art. She transferred to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and changed her field of study to political science and art history. After college, she worked for Saturday Review magazine as a photo editor and decided she wanted to be a writer. After stints at The Washington Post Writers Group and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, she moved to Melbourne, Australia, to report the news for The Herald. After a three and a half month assignment aboard a Greenpeace ship in Antarctica, she traveled the world, reporting the news for a variety of U.S. newspapers and magazines, settling in Bangkok where she worked for The Nation.
Leslie received her MFA from University of Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program, where she worked with Paul Diehl, David Hamilton, Patricia Foster, Terry Tempest Williams, Adam Hochschild, and Ed Folsom.
She has been awarded a Fulbright Fellow at Gateway Antarctica New Zealand and an NEA grant and has been an invited speaker at conferences in Australia and the U.S. about her research on Antarctica and wild places. She has written hundreds of articles and essays for publications including the Bellevue Literary Review, the Christian Science Monitor, the St. Petersburg Times, and the Sydney Morning Herald.
Her first book, The Entire Earth and Sky: Views on Antarctica, 2008, traces the years she lived in Christchurch and Lyttelton, New Zealand, researching Antarctic histories and working with the polar historian Baden Norris. More generally, the book explores through story New Zealand’s unique relationship with Antarctica and the people who came from and settled in the port town of Lyttelton and how they created and continue to create a unique, Antarctican culture. The book was widely reviewed and acclaimed in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand. It was released in paperback in 2012 by Bison Books, a University of Nebraska Press imprint.
Her second book, Here Is Where I Walk: Episodes from a Life in the Forest, (April 2019, University of Nevada Press), has garnered early support from acclaimed writers in her field. Traveling around the world, Roberts explores the difficult battles being waged to preserve forests and wild places. These stories, equally tragic, reflective, and triumphant are captured in personal essays, recounting her travels to Tasmania in search of a tree species, how the Indiana Dunes National Park came to be saved from sand miners, the Maryland woods of her youth, the death of a beloved student when she was teaching at the University of Iowa, and her own battle to regain use of her arms following an automobile accident. The narrative spine of the book explores her walks and life as a resident in the Presidio National Park and interrogates how wild places communicate with and beckon us into their fold and how this triggers our brains to cast back on stories of people and place.
CCA ( July 20th, 2019)
publications. Formerly she was a journalist for newspapers in Florida, California, Thailand, and Australia. She received a Fulbright Fellowship to New Zealand, and has an MFA from the University of Iowa.