Delia Owens (born ca. 1949) is an American author and zoologist. Her debut novel Where the Crawdads Sing topped The New York Times Fiction Best Sellers of 2019 and The New York Times Fiction Best Sellers of 2020 for 32 non-consecutive weeks and was on the list for 135 weeks in total. She has also written the memoirs Cry of the Kalahari, The Eye of the Elephant, and Secrets of the Savanna, with her then-husband, Mark, about their time studying animals in Africa.
Owens grew up in Thomasville, in south Georgia in the 1950s. She and her then-husband, Mark Owens, were students in biology at the University of Georgia. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology from the University of Georgia and a Ph.D. in Animal Behavior from the University of California, Davis.The couple moved to Africa in 1974, traveling before making camp in the Kalahari Desert, Botswana. Cry of the Kalahari was written about the couple's experience. After they campaigned against the local cattle industry, Botswana government officials expelled them from the country. The Owenses then settled the North Luangwa National Park, Zambia, and later in Mpika in the early 1990s. Mark Owens has been accused of operating a "shoot to kill" policy against poachers. ABC News aired a report in 1996 entitled "Deadly Game: The Mark and Delia Owens Story", produced by Andrew Tkach and hosted by Meredith Vieira. The report featured the controversial killing of a poacher in Zambia, allegedly committed by Delia's stepson, Christopher Owens. Both are wanted in Zambia for questioning. The Owenses have denied the accusations. The family were also accused of having "archaic ideas about Africans", with one critic describing their views as "Nice continent. Pity about the Africans"Since completing her PhD in Biology she has published her studies of African wildlife behavioral ecology in professional journals, including Nature, the Journal of Mammalogy, Animal Behaviour, and the African Journal of Ecology. She has also contributed articles to Natural History and International Wildlife aimed at a wider audience.
Delia and Mark Owens are divorced. Delia Owens lives in Boundary County, Idaho.Owens is the co-founder of the Owens Foundation for Wildlife Conservation in Stone Mountain, GA. She has also worked as a roving editor for International Wildlife, lectured throughout North America, and participated in conservation efforts for the grizzly bear throughout the United States.
1981 — Rolex Award for Enterprise for Kalahari Research Project (with former husband, Mark Owens)
1985 — John Burroughs Award (with Mark Owens)
1993 — University of California Outstanding Alumnus Award
1994 — Ridder of the Golden Ark (Netherlands)Bibliography
Where the Crawdads Sing (2018)Memoirs
Cry of the Kalahari (1984)
The Eye of the Elephant (1992)
Secrets of the Savanna (2006)See also
Ethology in fiction – animal behavior in fiction, as exemplified by the account in Where the Crawdads SingReferences
"Elephants Under Fire, Upon Reflection, 1992 UWTV Classics". YouTube. UW Video. 14 February 2014; Marcia Alvar's 1992 interview of Delia OwensCS1 maint: postscript (link)
"Delia Owens, "Where the Crawdads Sing"". YouTube. Politics and Prose. 22 September 2019.