Thomas Merton eBooks
Thomas Merton was a Trappist monk and author who was best known for his autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, which was published in 1948.
Merton was born in France in 1915. His father, a New Zealand painter, and mother, an American artist, moved the family to the United States later in the same year. After Merton’s mother died from cancer in 1922, his father moved the family around. Over the remaining years of his childhood, Merton lived in France, England, Italy, and the United States.
In 1935, Merton enrolled at Columbia University. It was here that he converted to Catholicism, in 1938, while working on a thesis about the work of William Blake. Three years later, in 1941, Merton entered the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky. The Abbot encouraged Merton to write historical biographies.
Merton published two books of poetry, Thirty Poems and A Man in the Divided Sea, in 1944 and 1946, respectively. When his autobiography was published in 1948, Merton gained critical acclaim as a writer. The Seven Storey Mountain quickly became a highly influential best seller.
Merton continued to write for the monastery, and over the remaining 20 years of his life, he wrote dozens of books. His writing frequently dealt with political issues, with Merton being a voice for the civil rights and peace movements of the 1960s.
In addition to his writing on Catholicism, Merton was also interested in Eastern religions, writing several books on Zen Buddhism. During a monk’s trip to Asia in 1968, Merton died from accidental electrocution. His writings continued to be published after his death, and he remains one of the most influential Catholic thinkers.