Susan Brind Morrow was born in Geneva, New York and attended Barnard College and Columbia University, where she studied Classics, Arabic and Egyptology, and Boston University, where Morrow was a doctoral student of Elie Wiesel’s in Comparative Religion. Morrow worked as an archeologist in Egypt in her early twenties, and became interested in the origins of written language in nature. In the nineteen eighties she traveled extensively alone in the deserts of Egypt and Sudan, and in Central Africa, keeping notebooks on natural history, language and poetry. Morrow returned to North Africa as a fellow of the Crane-Rogers Foundation in Egypt and Sudan (1988-90). Her first book, drawn from this decade of experience, is The Names of Things: A Passage in the Egyptian Desert, a finalist for the Pen Martha Albrand Award for the Memoir in 1998.
Morrow brought the same distinctive mix of essay, narrative, etymology, natural history, poetry, fine pen and ink drawings, and translation, to the American landscape in her second book, Wolves and Honey: A Hidden History of the Natural World. Morrow is a contributor to Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape. Her papers are in The Sowell Collection.
Morrow worked with the director Larry Sacharow on a play based on Rene Daumal’s unfinished novel Mt. Analogue, staged at the Rubin Theater in NY in 2006.
As a Fellow of the Guggenheim Foundation Morrow brought a completely new reading to the primary religious text of Egypt, the earliest complex religious text in the world, The Pyramid Texts: a dense body of hieroglyphic writing discovered by European archaeologists in 1880 on the interior walls of Old Kingdom Pyramids. Filtered through the European colonial mind, this significant world religious text was understood as an incoherent mix of myth and primitive magic spells, the central portion of which Egyptology called ‘The Cannibal Hymn’. Morrow uniquely saw that this extensive hieroglyphic work was instead a compendium of mystical poetry made up of beautifully composed verses, some of which are direct astronomical references, others a description of the emergence of the soul and the soul reentering the stream of nature. Morrow’s translation and commentary, The Dawning Moon of the Mind, was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 2015.