Cid Ricketts Sumner

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Cid Ricketts Sumner (September 27, 1890 – October 15, 1970) was a novelist from the United States. She also taught English at a Jackson, Mississippi, high school and French at Millsaps College.


Sumner was born Bertha Louise Ricketts in Brookhaven, Mississippi. She was the daughter of Bertha Burnley and Robert Scott Ricketts. Her father was a professor at Millsaps College, and her mother and grandmother provided a homeschooled education for her. She received a BS from Millsaps College in 1909 and an MA from Columbia University in 1910. She continued postgraduate work at Columbia from 1910 to 1914, then enrolled in medical school at Cornell University. She only attended one year of medical school before marrying one of her professors, Nobel Prize winner James B. Sumner, on July 10, 1915. They had four children (although the Nobel website for James B. Sumner indicated that they had six children, one of whom died young). They were divorced in 1930.

Several of Sumner's books were filmed. The most well-known were books Quality (1946), and Tammy Out of Time (1948). Quality became the movie Pinky. Quality was quite ahead of its time in terms of addressing miscegenation (interracial marriage). It depicts a young, fair-skinned black woman who attends nursing school in the north and passes for white. Tammy Out of Time became the movies Tammy and the Bachelor and Tammy Tell Me True.

In 1955, Sumner joined the Eggert-Hatch river expedition, the purpose of which was to make the last films of the Green and Colorado River canyons before construction began on Flaming Gorge and Glen Canyon dams. She was the only female member of the expedition. She applied to be a member after reading an ad placed by Charles Eggert in Harper's Magazine, and was accepted after she proved to Charles Eggert that she could stand up to the rigors of the river expedition. She was not allowed to float through Cataract Canyon on the Colorado, as Don Hatch, the head boatman, felt that it was too dangerous, but she rejoined the party at Hite, Utah, and floated all the way through to Lees Ferry, Arizona, where the first leg of the expedition ended. When the journey resumed the next year for the section through the Grand Canyon, she did not return. Sumner wrote a book about her journey called Traveler in the Wilderness, published by Harper in 1957.

Sumner died violently, being bludgeoned to death at the age of 80 in Duxbury, Massachusetts. Her grandson, John R. Cutler, was charged with her murder.[1]


  1. ^ "Milestones: Oct. 26, 1970". TIME. Monday, October 26, 1970.

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