A Abbey, Edward Edward Abbey (1927-1989) is a novelist, essayist, polemicist, and activist whose contribution to the environmental movement is greater than most writers because of his status as a cult figure. Born in Pennsylvania, Abbey fell in love with the desert southwest while on a hitchhiking trip. From 1956 to 1971 he worked as a park ranger for the National Park Service while writing on the side. During the 19505 he worked at the largely undeveloped Arches National Monument in Utah. His experiences there as he watched both the unspoiled desert and the efforts of those trying to make it more "accessible" (i.e., in Abbey's view, more like the city and less like the desert), are described in his most famous nonfiction work, Desert Solitaire (1968). In addition to describing the beauty and mystery of the desert he sees as he sits on the step of the trailer he calls his home, Abbey also presents its roughness and sheer terror; he describes waiting for hours to fill his canteen at a spring in the mountains that gives only one drop at a time, while fighting off a swarm of gnats.