Kathryn Aalto

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Exeter, England

Kathryn Aalto is an American teacher, landscape designer, historian & NY Times Best Selling author. Her focus is on places where nature & culture intersect: teaching literature of nature & place, designing gardens & writing about the natural world.

w: Kathryn Aalto Landscapes

e: kathryn@kathrynaalto.com

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Kathryn is a regular contributor to publications such as Sierra, Outside magazine, and the Children and Nature Network. She has appeared on many radio and television programs including NPR's "All Things Considered" and a Channel 4 special with English garden presenter Alan Titchmarsh. Her second book, The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh: A Walk Through the Forest that Inspired the Hundred Acre Wood, was a New York Times Best Seller, a People magazine Best New Pick in Nonfiction, and has been reviewed in newspapers, magazine, radio and television throughout the world.

She is an international public speaker who has given presentations at nearly 100 universities, book festivals, bookstores, botanic gardens, schools, gardens clubs and libraries since 2015. These include Harvard's Arnold Arboretum, the New York Public Library, the University of Redlands, and the Louisiana Book Festival. Book reviews, speaking testimonials, and a full listing of venues can be found below and in her press kit: www.kathrynaalto.com/presskit


Audience Testimonials

“Kathryn is a lively, fluid and engaging speaker. She held our audience of 350 for over an hour with a remarkable rendition of the Hundred Acre Woods and many questions thereafter. I noted that a number of us felt as though we wanted to immediately get on a plane and go there, because she made it so personal and real. Kathryn sold dozens of her books, which is always a positive indication of people’s enthusiasm, and a number of people came up just to thank her for taking them back in their mind to a place they very much loved." — Charlotte Burgess Vice President and Dean of Student Life, University of Redlands


“Not only was Ms. Aalto thoroughly prepared and professional in her presentation, she was completely charming and engaging to our audience. As a rule, we have a very smart crowd. Ms. Aalto left the crowd delighted and satisfied with their evening out, something that does not always happen with an author presentation! We would gladly have her back for future programs…in fact it cannot be soon enough!” Jacques Lamarre, Director of Communications, The Mark Twain House & Museum, Hartford, CT


"The Modesto Garden Club is the largest garden club in the United States. Kathryn was one of the best speakers we have ever had. We loved her. It will be difficult to top her."  — Cindy Ott, Events Coordinator, Modesto Garden Club


"Kathryn Aalto's event at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, North Carolina drew a packed house and ranks as one of our Top 5 in 34 years. Her talk about The Natural World of Winnie the Pooh was very informative and at times laugh out loud funny.  Her slides kept the audience interested.  She discussed the real Hundred Acre Wood, A.A. Milne, Christopher Robin, and E. H. Shepard's illustrations.  The audience had fun and lots of folks thanked us for having her here.  And we sold lots of books!" Helen Stewart, Floor Manager, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, North Carolina


"I directed Kathryn for a short ‘taster’ film for a pitch of the documentary version of her book ‘The Natural World of Winnie the Pooh’ for BBC Four. I couldn’t have asked for more from a presenter – she was extremely well prepared with excellent, engaging delivery and the ability to take direction and think on her feet. I very much hope we get to work together in the future." Jake Hayes, BBC producer


"Kathryn spoke to a large crowd, thoroughly engaging the audience in the details of Ashdown Forest, A.A. Milne’s life, and that of Christopher Robin. Kathryn’s presentation style was direct, warm, and intimate supported by a strong dose of nostalgia from the audience—a winning combination." Pam Thompson, Manager of Adult Education, Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University


“I’ve conducted many on-air interviews throughout the last 20 years. You don’t always know what you’re going to get until you’re actually into the interview. Within 10 seconds of my first question with Kathryn, I knew my audience was in for a real treat. Kathryn was engaging, informative, very much at ease, and immediately sucked me into Winnie-the-Pooh’s world. I now have this penchant to play Poohsticks, and I’ve updated my bucket list to include a visit to Ashdown Forest.”  Bryan Earl, Host of the Zesty Garden, Utah Public Radio


"We were honored to welcome Kathryn Aalto to the Hudson Library & Historical Society for a truly memorable evening. Kathryn knows how to engage an audience with the right amount of warmth, insight and humor. Her well-researched multimedia presentation, full of beautiful photographs and even the sounds of nature, captured the delight of the Winnie-the-Pooh stories and the beauty of Ashdown Forest. I know many of us left inspired to revisit the stories as well as embark on our own explorations of nature." Polly Reynolds, Hudson Library & Historical Society, Ohio


"Laughter, nostalgia and love of nature were shared during the presentation by Kathryn Aalto at the Modesto Garden Club. Kathryn instantly connected with the large group by divulging memories of her childhood in rural California and recent experiences as an expat living in England. Sharing her love of nature and classic literature, Kathryn's presentation was warm, humorous and erudite and inspired people to dust off their childhood copies of A. A. Milne's classics." — Deborah Thrasher, attendee, Modesto Garden Club


Each talk weaves together art, history and nature in a thought-provoking journey to the English countryside. The talks are 45 minutes with 15-minutes Q&A and is accompanied by Kathryn's acclaimed photography.  Audiences learn and laugh while being transported back in time to this literary landscape. Contact Kathryn with your questions and inquiries: kathryn@kathrynaalto.com. 

The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh: A Walk Through the Forest that Inspired the Hundred Acre Wood. Join Kathryn Aalto for a nostalgic, visually-rich journey into one of the most iconic settings in children’s literature: the Hundred Acre Wood, a real place in East Sussex, England called Ashdown Forest.  This is where A. A. Milne lived and set the tender adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh and his band of friends. Learn about Milne’s extraordinary childhood in the natural world and how he and illustrator E. H. Shepard became the Lennon-McCartney of children’s literature. Discover the fascinating places that inspired the stories as well as rare flora and fauna of the forest. Part travelogue, biography and natural history, the book and talk weave history with humor as Kathryn shares stories of raising her children in the storybook landscape of England. Kathryn also suggests A. A. Milne probably would not recognise modern childhood, and explains why the Christopher Robins of the 21st century need their own Hundred Acre Woods. Leave with a new understanding of how the Winnie-the-Pooh books are now, more than ever, field guides for the free range child, hymns to those days of Doing nothing — yet learning everything. 


A Walk in Winnie’s Footsteps:  This charming talk takes children into the natural world where A. A, Milne set the tender adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh and his chums. Tailored for the young, an excerpt is read from a story and is interspersed with images and illustrations from Ashdown Forest. Kathryn shares her experiences writing the book including what it felt like to walk through the real Hundred Acre Wood, what real flowers and animals call this special place home, and gives kids an enthusiasm for reading the original stories. Children can come dressed up as their favourite characters if they choose. Organisers might like to include a craft project and conclude with a honey snack. (30-45 minutes, depending on age of children)


Your Place in the World/The American Literature of Nature and Place. One of the most distinctive genres in American literature, nature writing is also one of its oldest traditions yet receiving great critical attention. Join Kathryn as she introduces you to the best American nature writing and ways it differs from British nature writing. She discusses the diverse voices and concerns of nature writers citing Thoreau, Burroughs, Muir, Leopold, Carson, Eiseley, Bass, Beston and others. A practical aspect of the seminar can be added for those who want to begin the art and practice of writing about nature called “Your Place in the World.” Full or half-day seminar.


Writing and Literature

Your Place in the World/The American Literature of Nature and Place. One of the most distinctive genres in American literature, nature writing is also one of its oldest traditions yet receiving great critical attention. Join Kathryn as she introduces you to the best American nature writing and ways it differs from British nature writing. She discusses the diverse voices and concerns of nature writers citing Thoreau, Burroughs, Muir, Leopold, Carson, Eiseley, Bass, Beston and others. A practical aspect of the seminar can be added for those who want to begin the art and practice of writing about nature called "Your Place in the World." Full of half-day seminar. 

Kathryn Aalto has taught writing, research paper writing and literature in higher education settings for more than 20 years including the Lawrence Hall of Science, Western Washington University, Everett Community College and the Exeter College.

Narrative Nonfiction. Narrative (or creative) nonfiction is the fastest-growing area in publishing today, joining excellent research with compelling, character-driven storytelling that reads like a novel. True stories told well, narrative nonfiction is fact-based story-telling that makes people want to keep reading. It is achieved through creating a narrative persona, setting scenes, and presenting a strong sense of place to the purposes of journalism or reportage. Join best-selling author Kathryn Aalto to apply key storytelling techniques that hook the reader's imagination to make your nonfiction come alive with your particular insights. Kathryn will provide a fascinating overview of the genre, insightful exercises to help find your own voice and ways to revise your current writing projects. You will leave the course with ample inspiration to develop a new or existing idea in a style that is distinctively your own. Full, half-day, or week-long creative nonfiction seminars available.

Writing Winning Nonfiction Book Proposals. Join Kathryn as she discusses approaches for crafting a winning nonfiction book proposal. Along with explaining what acquisition editors want, topics also include developing a well-honed hook, how to do comprehensive market analysis, and how to present yourself as an author, amongst other topics. A lively and informative lecture, the session will also provide students with an understanding of what approaches Kathryn uses to craft winning proposals. Her proposal to Timber Press, the world's most prestigious gardening, horticultural and natural history press, developed into the lead title in Autumn 2015 and led to glowing editorial reviews, features in Top 25 American magazines, invitations to literary festivals and a book launch at The New York Public Library. Half-day or short-course.


Based in Devon, England, Kathryn speaks throughout the United States and United Kingdom.

Photo Gallery


Audience Reviews

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Fascinating viewpoint

Kylee Baumle from Ohio - 05/01/2017 00:08:55

I specifically wanted to attend the Northwest Flower & Garden Show to hear Kathryn Aalto speak. As an avid gardener and a Classic Pooh collector who would dearly love to visit the English countryside where Milne lived and the Pooh stories originated, I was excited to hear Kathryn's take on it from a botanical point of view. I was not disappointed. Her photos and oral descriptions of the land and how they played into the Pooh stories were fascinating and the talk was over before I knew it. This was not your usual garden talk. It was so much more and I left the talk wanting even more to visit Ashdown Forest someday.

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Clever and evocative

Karen Castle from Snohomish, WA - 03/30/2017 07:47:57

I had the good fortune to hear Kathryn speak at our local library in Monroe, Washington. She showed gorgeous slides of the English countryside and spoke about them in relation to Winnie the Pooh. Kathryn is a clever and evocative speaker. Not only did I learn about the natural world that inspired author and father A.A. Milne, but Kathryn's presentation made me feel like packing my bag and travelling to see for myself!

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Speaker review

Pam Bruhl from Fort Worth, tx - 03/18/2017 16:49:50

Kathryn is an exuberant,learned,interactive speaker. She spoke at the Fort Worth Garden Club in the Botanic Gardens about The Natural World of Winnie the Pooh. That alone is charming, but she brought it to life with slides of the real habitats of the characters. The audience enjoyed answering her questions and asking questions. She is a delightful speaker.