Helen Nearing

Helen Knothe Nearing (February 23, 1904 – September 17, 1995) was an American author and advocate of simple living.

Helen Knothe was the daughter of Frank Knothe, who had a clothing business in New Jersey.[1] She grew up in an economically comfortable family of Theosophists.[2]

As a young woman, she had a romantic relationship with Jiddu Krishnamurti.[2]

She and Scott Nearing started a relationship in 1928 and married nearly 20 years later, on December 12, 1947 when she was 43 and he was 64.[3] The couple lived in rural Vermont where they grew much of their food and erected nine stone buildings over the course of two decades. They lived an ascetic and self-reliant life, earning money by producing maple syrup and sugar from the trees on their land and from Scott Nearing's occasional paid lectures.[4]

In 1952, Helen and Scott Nearing moved to a homestead in Brooksville, Maine, on Cape Rosier, where they continued growing much of their own food.[5] They cultivated blueberries as a cash crop.[6]

In the summer of 1991, Helen and Scott were inducted into the Vegetarian Hall of Fame of the North American Vegetarian Society.[7]

Helen Nearing died in 1995 as the result of a single-car accident in Harborside, Maine.[8][9]

Published works

  • The Good Life Picture Album (1974)
  • Simple Food for the Good Life (1980)
  • Wise Words for the Good Life (1980)
  • Our Home Made of Stone (1983)
  • Loving and Leaving the Good Life (1992)
  • Light on Aging and Dying (1995)

Co-authored with Scott Nearing

  • The Maple Sugar Book: being a plain practical account of the Art of Sugaring designed to promote an acquaintance with the Ancient as well as the Modern practise, together with remarks on Pioneering as a way of living in the twentieth century. New York: John Day Co., 1950.
  • Living the Good Life (1954) ISBN 0-88365-236-6
  • Socialists Around the World (1958)
  • Building and Using Our Sun-Heated Greenhouse (1977)
  • Continuing the Good Life (1979)
  • The Good Life (1989)


  1. Lutyens, p138
  2. Krishnamurti: The Years of Awakening by Mary Lutyens, London: John Murray, 1975.
  3. Margaret Killinger The Good Life of Helen K. Nearing, 2007.
  4. Nearing, The Making of a Radical, pg. 47.
  5. Nearing and Nearing, The Good Life, pg. 223-224.
  6. Nearing and Nearing, The Good Life, pg. 286.
  7. "Vegetarian Hall of Fame". North American Vegetarian Society. Retrieved 2019-11-17.
  8. McQuiston, John (September 19, 1995). "Helen K. Nearing, Maine Writer, Dies at 91". The New York Times.
  9. Boyd, Stephany (September 18, 1995). "Author Helen Nearing dies in car crash". Bangor Daily News.
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