Ruth McEnery Stuart

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Ruth Stuart redirects here. For those of a similar name, see Ruth Stewart (disambiguation).
Ruth McEnery Stuart
Ruth McEnery Stuart 001.jpg
Born (1849-05-21)May 21, 1849
Marksville, Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana
Died May 6, 1917(1917-05-06) (aged 67)
New York City
Resting place New Orleans, Louisiana
Nationality United States
Other names Mary Routh McEnery Stuart
Occupation Writer
Known for Sonny (1896)
Spouse(s) Alfred Oden Stuart

Ruth McEnery Stuart (1849–1917) was an American author.

Early life and marriage[edit]

She was born Mary Routh McEnery Stuart, child of James and Mary Routh (Stirling) McEnery in Marksville, Louisiana.[1][2] (She changed the spelling of her name to "Ruth" after she began her career in literature.) Stuart's true date of birth is not known with certainty. In addition to the date shown here in 1849, Stuart's date of birth is also shown as 19 February 1852 on her marriage certificate.[1] When she was three, Stuart moved to New Orleans, Louisiana.[2] Stuart taught school there until she married Arkansas farmer Alfred Oden Stuart on 6 August 1879.[2] Alfred Oden Stuart was a widower with eleven children;[1] he died in 1883 and she returned to New Orleans.[2] Ruth and Alfred Oden Stuart had one son, but he died in 1904[2] or 1905.[3]

Writing career[edit]

Stuart first published in February 1888 in the New Princeton Review. She sold a second story to Harpers New Monthly Magazine shortly thereafter; in the early 1890s she moved to New York City.[1] Stuart was active in her literary career from 1888 until 1917, producing some 75 works.[1] Between 1891-97 she produced "20 books, short stories, sketches, and reprinted verses she had originally published in magazines".[2] She was known not just for her writing, but also for oral performances of her work.[2] Her most famous work is said to be Sonny (1896).[2] She was also occasionally a sub-editor at Harpers.[2]

Stuart has been characterized as belonging to the school of "American local color writing that emphasizes regional characteristics in landscape, way of life, and language."[1] Stuart's treatment of blacks forms a significant portion of her corpus and, if potentially troublesome today, "contemporary critics acclaimed her as providing an authentic representation of African Americans."[1] Her work is said to be of the same school as Kate Chopin.

Stuart's work was appreciated in England. She became a member of the Lyceum Club there in 1904. In 1915 she was granted an honorary Litt.D. in 1915 by [Tulane University].[1] Also in 1915 a literary club, Ruth McEnery Stuart Clan, was founded and named in her honor.[3]

Stuart died in New York City in 1917 and was buried in New Orleans.[1]


  • Jessekiah Brown's Courtship (1892) (Short Story in Harper's Monthly)[4]
  • A Golden Wedding and Other Tales (1893) (Her first collection)
  • The Story of Babette (1894)
  • Carlotta's Intended and Other Tales (1894)
  • Sonny: A Christmas Guest (1896) (Her most popular work)
  • Solomon Crowe's Christmas Pockets and Other Tales (1896)
  • Gobolinks; or Shadow Pictures for Young and Old Collaborated with Albert Bigelow Paine)[5] (1896) From the Collections at the Library of Congress
  • The Snow-Cap Sisters; a Farce (1897)
  • In Simpkinsville; Character Tales (1897)
  • Moriah's Mourning and other half-hour sketches (1898)
  • The Second Wooing of Salina Sue and Other Stories (1898)
  • Holly and Pizen, and other stories (1899)
  • Napoleon Jackson, the Gentleman of the Plush Rocker (1902)
  • George Washington Jones, a Christmas gift that went a-begging (1903)
  • The River's Children: an Idyll of the Mississippi (1904)
  • Aunt Amity's Silver Wedding, and Other Stories (1909)
  • Sonny's Father (1910) (Sequel)
  • The Unlived Live of Little Mary Ellen (1910)
  • The haunted photograph, whence and whither, a case in diplomacy, the afterglow (1911)
  • Daddy Do-Funny's Wisdom Jingles (1913)
  • The Cocoon; a Rest-Cure Comedy (1915) (Last novel)
  • Plantation Songs and Other Verse (1916) (Last work)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Simpson, Ethel C. (2 April 2010). "Mary Routh McEnery Stuart (1852–1917)". The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture. Butler Center for Arkansas Studies. Retrieved 5 February 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Dictionary of American Biography IX (Vol. 2). New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 177. 
  3. ^ a b American National Biography 21. p. 80. 
  4. ^ Harper's Monthly Magazine May 1892, Volume 84 Number 504, Pages 933 to 941.
  5. ^ "From the Rare Book and Special Collections Division". 

Further reading[edit]

  • Joan Wylie Hall, "'White Momma ... Black Mammy': Replacing the absent mother in the works of Ruth McEnery Stuart" in (ed.) Warren, Nagueyalti; Sally Wolff (1999). Southern mothers; fact and fictions in Southern women's writing. Louisiana State University Press. pp. 64–80. ISBN 0-8071-2400-1. ]
  • Judy E. Sneller, "Bad boys/black misfits: Ruth McEnery Stuart's humor and 'the negro question'" in (ed.) Eiss, Harry (1994). Images of the child. Bowling Green State University Popular Press. p. 215. ISBN 0-87972-653-9. 

External links[edit]