Cruger was born in Oscawana in Westchester County, New York, the daughter of Captain Nicholas Cruger (1801-1868) and Eliza Kortright Cruger. After the deaths of her parents, she built a house near Montrose, New York called "Wood Rest".
Cruger's first novel, Hyperaesthesia (1886), was about several people at a New York resort suffering from the title malady, a condition of abnormal sensitivity. Cruger's novel examines female hysteria in a way that presages the work of later historians. Her novel A Den of Thieves (1886) is about a newlywed couple who become crusaders in the temperance movement. Her utopian novel How She Did It; Or, Comfort on $150 a Year (1888) is about a woman who builds her own home and lives frugally, complete with home blueprints, recipes, grocery costs, and other specifics. Her final novel, Brotherhood (1891), blames worker unrest on labor unions, depicting leaders of unions as "interfering agitators".
Cruger also wrote the novel The Vanderheyde Manor House (1887) and translated Labor, the Divine Command (1890) by Leo Tolstoy.
- Hill, Vicki Lynn (1979). "Mary Cruger". In Mainiero, Lina. American Women Writers: A Critical Reference Guide from Colonial Times to the Present. 1. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co. pp. 432–4.
- "Miss Mary Cruger". New York Times. November 20, 1908.
- Frances Elizabeth Willard; Mary Ashton Rice Livermore (1897). American Women: Fifteen Hundred Biographies with Over 1,400 Portraits : a Comprehensive Encyclopedia of the Lives and Achievements of American Women During the Nineteenth Century. 1. Mast, Crowell & Kirkpatrick. p. 218. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
- Kevin Hillstrom; Laurie Collier Hillstrom (30 May 2005). The Industrial Revolution in America. ABC-CLIO. p. 230. ISBN 978-1-85109-620-6. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
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