Kathryn Aalto is a New York Times bestselling author, international speaker, and the leading author of online writing courses in England. 

Based in Exeter, England, for the past twenty-five years, her creative practice has fused nature and culture: teaching the art of narrative nonfiction both live and online; designing classic European and contemporary sustainable gardens; writing books and essays about the natural world; and administering transformational writing retreats in the United States and British Isles.

“As both a writer and designer,” Kathryn says, “I love to create narratives with words and designs. I am also deeply committed to teaching narrative nonfiction to provide each student with a transformative learning experience. I am guided by a passion for growth and re-imagination — of the self, art and society, and other-than-human life — through education and sustainable design.”

Kathryn is the author of three books including Writing Wild: Women Poets, Ramblers, and Mavericks Who Shape How We See the Natural World (2020), The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh: A Walk Through the Forest that Inspired the Hundred Acre Wood (2015), and Nature and Human Intervention (2011). She is a book reviewer and was a judge for the inaugural Nature Chronicles Prize in 2022. Her essays have appeared in Smithsonian Magazine, Outside, Sierra, Buzzfeed, Resurgence and the Ecologist, and more. Her books have been widely reviewed in print, radio, TV, and digital platforms including The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, People Magazine, BBC Countryfile Magazine, and more. She is currently working on her fourth book.

Kathryn Aalto is a master teacher who guides people in the writing of narrative nonfiction whether they aspire to publication or desire personal expression.


Teaching Experience

Kathryn is both a passionate practitioner of narrative nonfiction as well as an experienced teacher of the subject. She has taught at colleges and universities including the Huxley College of the Environment and the English Department at Western Washington University, Everett Community College, and the University of Plymouth. She mentors emerging to published writers who are specialising in narrative nonfiction, specifically nature writing, travel writing, and memoir. 

Her students and mentees are award-winning and have been published around the world. These include £10,000 Nature Chronicles Prize (Nicola Pitchford), the Bradt Travel Guide’s “Best Travel Writer” Award (Emma Willsteed), and The Fish Memoir Prize long and short list (Sarah Davies). Her students have become magazine columnists (Elizabeth Wainwright in Spelt) and published books (This Contested Land by Mackenzie Long).  

Kathryn teaches popular on-line writing courses throughout the year including The Art of the Personal Essay and Narrative Nonfiction, Memoir and Life Writing, Nature and Place Writing, and Advanced Projects. Her students enjoy free monthly masterclasses in specialised topics that are open to the public. She leads writing retreats in the United States and the British Isles including the Rural Writing Institute in the Lake District with internationally bestselling author James Rebanks, the Retreat into the English Countryside in Devon, and the Retreat into the Montana Rockies at Seeley Lake. She has been invited to create a retreat at Findhorn in Forres, Scotland in April 2024.

All courses, masterclasses, and retreats, and more are listed under COURSES.


Teaching Philosophy

Kathryn’s teaching philosophy is focused on the creative growth of the individual student and encourages a uniquely personal exploration of narrative nonfiction. She believes teaching is about responding to each student, whether they are an emerging writer or writing beyond the level of content mastery. She creates a lively and supportive learning environment for optimal creative expression, critical thinking, and artistic growth.

As an educator, Kathryn’s teaching is based on the Harkness Method, a collaborative approach established at the Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire where her children graduated. This philosophy brings no more than twelve students together with one teacher: each voice carries equal weight, active listening is essential, and empathy is developed to explore ideas together.


Kathryn is an ardent supporter of fellow writers. “I was delighted when Kathryn helped me launch my Yale University Press book, The Doctor’s Garden, in February 2022 via a Zoom ‘In Conversation’ event,” said Dr. Clare Hickman, senior lecturer at Newcastle University.

“Kathryn had carefully read and considered the various angles I had taken to the material. She insightfully drew out the larger themes and scope and understood the originality of my work and how it sits within the wider context of landscape and botanic history. In particular, the discussion interweaving the academic research and my approach to writing was a joy and am sure helped me communicate verbally the processes as well as the outcomes of years of investigation. She was outstanding as an interviewer.” 

Author Janisse Ray (Wild Spectacle, Ecology of a Cracker Childhood and six other books) says: “Kathryn Aalto has proven herself to be a person of extreme integrity, of careful preparation, and of utmost professionalism. She graciously agreed to host an online book launch for me. I wanted her to do it because of her seminal and ground-breaking survey of women’s nature writing, Writing Wild.  She proved to be beyond my wildest expectations. She was incredibly calm, obviously adept at managing the myriad threads involved in hosting an in-depth interview being broadcast live—the conversation itself, questions from the audience, the time, and much more. Not only calm, she was remarkably polite, kind, inclusive, and very knowledgeable about the subject at hand. Seemingly without effort she was able to drop into a deep, plundering, soul-stirring conversation, where the audience members felt as if they were eavesdropping, as if at any moment juicy information helpful to their lives might be revealed.”