Kathryn Aalto is a teacher, speaker, historian, designer, and New York Times bestselling author.

Based in Exeter, England, for the past twenty-five years, her creative practice has fused nature and culture. She is a master teacher of narrative nonfiction, a designer of classic and contemporary gardens, a historian of gardens and designed landscapes, an author of books and essays about the natural world, and an experienced public speaker who gives talks at museums, libraries, universities, and arboretums throughout North America and Britain.

Kathryn has written 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).

Her essays have appeared in Smithsonian Magazine, Outside magazine, Sierra, Buzzfeed, Resurgence and the Ecologist, and more. Her work has been widely reviewed in print, radio, and digital platforms including National Public Radio, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, People Magazine, BBC Countryfile Magazine, and many more. Kathryn has appeared on TV and in film. She reviews books and was a literary judge for the 2022 Nature Chronicles Prize for which she wrote the Foreword to the prize’s anthology of shortlisted essays.

Kathryn teaches many narrative nonfiction courses both live online and in person. Her courses are tiered based on experience (Levels 1-4) and include special topics to educate a spectrum of emerging to experienced writers around the world.  Her students win literary awards, are shortlisted for writing prizes, get published as essays, and sign book contracts. As a teacher, she integrates holistic, psychological, and practical mindset strategies into discussions and lectures to help students reach their full potential as contemporary artists.

Experienced in arts administration, she received the Community Revitalization Award as founder and president of the Monroe Arts Council in Washington State. She has also founded several writing retreats including the Retreat at Saunton Sands in Devon, the Rural Writing Institute with author James Rebanks, and the Retreat into the Montana Rockies.

Kathryn is represented by Ultra Literary in New York City and is currently working on her fourth book.



Part travel essay, literary biography, and cultural history, Writing Wild ventures into the landscapes and lives of extraordinary women who have written about the natural world. From Sissinghurst Castle Garden and Scafell Pike in the Lake District to the Southern Sierras in California to the beaches of Cape Cod, Kathryn Aalto explores the lives, literature, and landscapes of twenty-five classic, new, and overlooked female nature writers.

“A fantastic resource for readers looking to grow their TBR piles.” — The Los Angeles Times

“Exciting, inspiring, intimidating, and bold.” — San Francisco Book Review

“A heartening book, granting attention to women who dared to write and ramble wild.” — BBC Countryfile


In this New York Times best seller, Kathryn Aalto explores the people, places, and plants that inspired A. A. Milne to create the Hundred Acre Wood. A three-part narrative packed with classic E. H. Shepard illustrations and hundreds of new and historical photographs.

“Aalto’s lovely book provides two great pleasures: a visit to the actual wild spots that inform the fictional Pooh world and a chance to slip into our memories of the books themselves.” — The Washington Post

“Lavishly illustrated with superb photographs as well as reproductions of the delightfully familiar Shepard illustrations… an affectionate book written with enthusiasm.” — The Wall Street Journal

“A vivid guide to the 6,000 acres of Ashdown Forest in England, a landscape celebrated by A. A.  Milne and illustrator E. H. Shepard as the make-believe Hundred Acre Wood where Christopher Robin and their friends had their adventures.”  — The New York Times


A project for Laurent-Perrier: Luciano Giubbilei, Kengo Kuma, Peter Randall-Page – This book by Kathryn Aalto is a collection of lyrical essays celebrating the vision and artists behind the Laurent-Perrier Garden at the 2010 Chelsea Flower Show. Printed in 1000 copies numbered from 1 to 1000.


Kathryn’s designs are influenced by the relaxed California vibe of her home state combined with an immersion in Italian and English garden history and design. She designs contemporary wildlife-friendly gardens to classic historic estates. Her landscapes are noted for their historical narrative, comprehensive site analysis, detailed research, underlying simplicity, and painter’s eye for composition, colour, shadow and light.

While she enjoys designing private gardens, Kathryn has a special interest in public and community spaces. These include public gathering places, natural playgrounds for children, university gardens, and designed spaces for hospices and hospitals. All her gardens are designed to enhance the mind + body + spirit connection: to invite contemplation and ease, enhance overall well-being, and help people feel inter-connected with the natural world.

Designs begin with a client meeting and site analysis, and proceed through concept drawings, master plans, planting plans and construction drawings. To arrange a site visit, contact gardens@kathrynaalto.com.


“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

“The Modesto Garden Club in California 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

“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 and Museum, Connecticut

“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

“Kathryn Aalto’s knowledge of her work and study is outstanding. She takes this information and shares this enjoyable journey to different types of audiences. I have witnessed her programs for people and children of all ages and have been very impressed on how she changes and makes the information appropriate for the audience she has before her. I highly recommend Kathryn.”

Benjamin Sapp, Director, The Mazza Museum of International Art from Picture Books


“Kathryn Aalto is an exceptional teacher. As a best-selling author, she knows the publishing industry first-hand. And she is highly adept at refining one’s technical skills without stifling a writer’s voice. I love the combination of rigor and nurturing she provides. Without her mentoring, I would still be stumbling in the dark along my path to publication. Her guidance, support and knowledge are game changers. I cannot recommend her enough!”

Lise, Los Angeles, California, USA

“Kathryn is an exceptional teacher. We’d start each class with a short lecture about the craft of writing, and then we’d apply what we learnt through work-shopping and readings. I think that’s the best thing about Kathryn’s classes: that we are taught the skills we need to continue learning for ourselves. At the end of the six weeks, I wasn’t left high and dry, scratching my head wondering what to do next. Through the online classes, I interacted with people from all over the world. And Kathryn has a gift for holding the space, so I felt safe sharing my work and opening myself up for critique. Learning from Kathryn is a fantastic experience, which is why I keep signing up for more!”

Marissa, Austria

“I have been making my living with journalistic texts for four years now. Tied to my desk due to the pandemic I decided it was time to take my writing to another level and enrolled in The Art of Narrative Nonfiction. Being skeptical of virtual courses at first, I was immediately drawn into the group by her professional and yet entertaining moderation of the weekly online gatherings. With an attractive mix of lecture, discussion, workshop and personal tutoring she enabled us to not only profit from her vast experience as a writer but also to open up our pieces to our peers from various cultural backgrounds. I’ll definitely be back for more.”

Johannes, Cologne, Germany

“I learnt so much from taking Kathryn’s Memoir and Life Writing course. Although I had published a lot of academic work, I was struggling making the transition to writing in a more personal vein and lacking in confidence. I found in Kathryn a superbly knowledgeable and lucid teacher. Through the lectures and class discussion, I learnt how to implement narrative nonfiction techniques and, in just a few weeks, saw my writing become much more engaging and evocative. I also benefited from being part of a supportive and friendly learning community, and building relationships that I expect to last far beyond the duration of the course. Finally, I really appreciated Kathryn’s warmth and positivity, both in the virtual classroom and in her individual feedback. She was an attentive and sympathetic reader of my work, giving clear guidance for improvement while simultaneously building my confidence. The course enabled me to see new possibilities in my writing and I am keen to work with Kathryn again as I continue to develop.”

David, Leeds, England

“The Writer-to-Writer Mentorship Program with Kathryn Aalto, sponsored by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, was a tremendous boost to my career as a creative writer. Judging the success of our relationship is easy: less than a year after we started, I have had five of the six essays she critiqued accepted for publication. Kathryn did more than just review and suggest, she recommended books and articles I should read, authors I should follow, conferences and short courses I should attend. She emphasized the importance of developing an online presence. She provided a detailed description of her career as a writer; the path she followed to becoming an internationally known, bestselling author. I still have much to learn, but Kathryn provided, encouragement, tools, and skills that will enable me to grow and chart my own course.”

Andrew, Maine, USA

“The Art of the Personal Essay was a great class. Kathryn was encouraging, letting us know what we did well, but she also took time to give us suggestions for how we could improve our work. Her feedback made me more confident and enthusiastic about trying my hand at writing. The esprit de corps in our class was beyond what I would have thought possible in a Zoom class. The energy was lovely and it was a real pleasure to share work with writers from Australia to Europe to America.”

Kimberley, Michigan, USA


“I was apprehensive, as a new writer, when I signed up to Kathryn’s Level 1 Narrative Nature Writing class. There’s something very scary about sharing your work for the first time! As it turned out, I needn’t have worried. Kathryn’s personal feedback on my essays was always helpful and thought provoking, gently encouraging me to consider different directions for my writing. There were other benefits: a kind and supportive learning community where we were all able to ask questions and read each other’s work, lectures and discussions introducing us to new authors and techniques, and fascinating insights into the publishing industry. This class delivered so much more than I had expected. I look forward to returning for Level 2!”

Toni, England