The Adventures of the Woman Homesteader: The Life and Letters of Elinore Pruitt Stewart

The Adventures of the Woman Homesteader: The Life and Letters of Elinore Pruitt Stewart

The Adventures of the Woman Homesteader: The Life and Letters of Elinore Pruitt Stewart

The Adventures of the Woman Homesteader: The Life and Letters of Elinore Pruitt Stewart

Synopsis

Generations of reders have delighted in Elinore Pruitt Stewart's Letters of a Woman Homesteader (1914) and Letters on an Elk Hunt (1915), among the most engaging accounts of life in the American West. Stewart related her adventures on an isolated Wyoming homestead with such vividness, gusto, and sympathy that she has become the woman homesteader. Until now, however, little has been known about her except what she chose to reveal in her published letters.Old friends and new acquaintances alike will welcome this book combining Stewart's previously unpublished or uncollected letters with Susanne K. George's extensive research. Here is as full and candid a portrait as wella re ever likely to have of The Woman Homesteader: the illness, disappointments, and grinding hard work that lay behind her genial public persona; the family, neighbors, and correspondents who peopled her letter-stories and shared her life.George has discovered in Elinore Pruitt Stewart a story fully as rewarding as any told by the Woman Homesteader herself. In an afterword George considers Stewart's use of fictional devices and her growth as a writer as well as her place in American letters.Susanne K. George is an associate professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Kearney who specializes in western and women's literature.

Excerpt

From 1909 until 1933, Elinore Pruitt Stewart shared her daily life as a woman homesteader in Wyoming with her friends and the world through her letters. Although her writings describe the common events experienced by many women of her time, her personal window on the world commanded a universal view. Her published works, especially Letters of a Woman Homesteader (1914) and Letters on an Elk Hunt by a Woman Homesteader (1915), as well as her unpublished stories, letters, and journals, reveal historical perspectives on the settling of the West. They also present, with imaginative insight and vulnerability, a wider understanding of the feminine role in the homesteading experience and add to the American literary canon. Stewart's life, an odyssey northward through the plains from White Bead, Indian Territory, to Burntfork, Wyoming, symbolizes the independence, strength, and spirit of our pioneer foremothers.

I have compiled this collection of unpublished or little-known writings of Stewart from the personal collections of her children Clyde Stewart, Jr., and Jerrine Wire, from the original Atlantic Monthly articles, and from Folk- Say IV: The Land Is Ours, published by the University of Oklahoma Press. Although more letters and stories exist than those I have chosen to present in this work, this collection comprises about 90 percent of her known writings. Stewart mentioned other correspondents in her letters, but although I have queried archivists of historical societies, libraries, and universities in numerous states, I have discovered no more letters. However, I am certain that additional letters lie forgotten in boxes stored in attics and basements across America.

The editing of any author's unpublished works is an exciting and gratifying experience, yet problems particular to each writer generally arise. The . . .

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