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Robert C. O'Brien (1918-1973) was, in private life, Robert Leslie Conly, senior assistant editor of National Geographic Magazine where he worked for over twenty years. He was born in New York and lived most of his adult life in Virginia. He wrote three books for children, including the acclaimed Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh which won the prestigious Newbery Medal. His haunting young adult novel Z for Zachariah was completed posthumously by his wife, Sally, and daughter, Jane, using the author's notes.
Ann Burden has been living alone in a valley for over a year - until Loomis, a scientist in a radiation-proof suit, arrives. She hopes they will be companions but his behaviour towards her becomes increasingly threatening as he attacks her and then cuts off her food supply and tries to bring her under his control. Although there may be no one else alive, Ann steals his suit and leaves the valley in search of humanity.