Marjorie Spock

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search

Marjorie Spock (September 8, 1904, New Haven, Connecticut – January 23, 2008, Sullivan, Maine) was an environmentalist, author and poet, best known for her influence on Rachel Carson when the latter was writing Silent Spring. Spock was also a noted Waldorf teacher, eurythmist, biodynamic gardener and anthroposophist.[1]


Marjorie Spock was born the second child and the first daughter of six children. Her older brother was Benjamin Spock, the world-renowned pediatrician and author of The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care.

At 18, Spock studied at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland where she met and worked with Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy. She was present at the "Christmas Conference" of December 25, 1923 – January 1, 1924 when the Anthroposophical Society was refounded.[1]

When she returned to the U.S., Spock received her BA and MA degrees from Columbia University at the age of 38. She was a teacher and served as the head of a progressive school in New York City. She also taught at the Rudolf Steiner School in New York City and the Waldorf School of Garden City, New York. Spock worked closely with Ehrenfried Pfeiffer for the biodynamic agriculture movement in the U.S.[1]

Environmental activism

In the late 1950s, Marjorie Spock was a biodynamic gardener on Long Island, New York. Spock complained when the government began indiscriminate aerial spraying of DDT over wide areas of the countryside against the perceived gypsy moth epidemic. When the spraying was not stopped, Spock brought a case with 11 other people against the United States government for the continued DDT spraying.[1] For Spock, the concern was for people’s health and the constitutional right for a property owner to manage her land free of government infringement.[2][3]

The Federal judge dismissed 72 uncontested admissions for the plaintiffs and denied their petition. When the case reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 1960, Spock wrote daily reports to interested and influential friends of the case's progress. Rachel Carson heard of Spock's case and soon got the daily reports. Carson used the testimony from the experts that Spock had found in her own research.[1] Spock's case, along with a massive bird kill on Cape Cod, provided the impetus for Carson's book, Silent Spring.[1]

The plaintiffs lost the case but won the right to enjoin the government, prior to a potentially destructive environmental activity, to provide a full scientific review of the proposed action.[2][3] With this right to environmental review, Spock helped give rise to the environmental movement.[1]



  • Teaching as a Lively Art
  • In Celebration of the Human Heart
  • Eurythmy
  • To Look on Earth With More Than Mortal Eyes
  • Fairy Worlds and Workers: A Natural History of Fairyland


These two pamphlets have had a broad readership.


  • A B C D E F G: The Secret Life of Letters


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Paull, John (2013) "The Rachel Carson Letters and the Making of Silent Spring", Sage Open, 3(July):1-12.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Marjorie Spock obituary, The Ellsworth American, 30 January 2008. Accessed 2009-04-02.[dead link]
  3. 3.0 3.1 Greene, Jennifer (February 2008). "Obituary for Marjorie Spock" (PDF). Newsletter of the Portland Branch of Anthroposophical Society in Portland, Oregon. 4.2: 7. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 August 2015. Retrieved 29 August 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>