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Ruth Stout was a beloved advocate of organic gardening and simple living. Her books and magazine articles popularized her simple living to millions.
Ruth was born in Kansas. Her mother was a Quaker with a rate knack for coping with her nine children. One of Ruth's brothers, Rex Stout, became the creator of the well-known Nero Wolfe mysteries, and Ruth herself began selling stories locally at an early age.
As a teenager, Ruth accompanied prohibitionist Carrie Nation on a saloon-smashing excursion (saloons were illegal in Kansas City at the time). In 1923 Ruth accompanied fellow Quakers to Russia to assist in famine relief.
Ruth moved to New York City, and before her marriage to Fred Rossiter she worked at a variety of jobs-nursemaid, telephone operator, bookkeeper, secretary, office manager, owner of a Greenwich Village tearoom. After her marriage, she and her husband moved to an old farm, Poverty Hollow, in West Redding, Connecticut.
Ruth's career since moving to the country was that of cook, housekeeper, gardener, lecturer, and, of course, writer. Ruth wrote several books and innumerable newspaper and magazine columns. She died in 1980 at the age of 96.
"Guess who's coming to dinner?"
With Ruth Stout, you never knew! Would it be sweet-tempered temperance activist, Carrie Nation, who smashed the windows of illegal saloons with a hatchet? Would it be her younger brother, Rex Stout, who finagled his way onto Teddy Roosevelt's presidential yacht and later became famous for his Nero Wolfe mysteries? Would it be Dr. Poulin, the famous hypnotist? Simple-living guru Scott Nearing? Not to mention friends, neighbors, starving artists, and refugees.
Ruth Stout tells the story of her life in terms of who showed up for dinner, and she describes the way she and her husband Fred turned their barn into simple visitor accommodations, turning guests into neighbors and avoiding Ben Franklin's maxim that "fish and visitors stink after three days."
The main flaw of this book is that it's too short! Major events like Ruth's work in Russia during the great famine in the Twenties are mentioned only briefly, and when we realize that the New York brownstone that they lived in for a while became Nero Wolfe's house in her brother Rex's detective stories, we'd like fuller descriptions and, if possible, floor plans!
But for everything that isn't there, there's something that is, making the book funny and wise and full of surprises, like all of Ruth's writing.
Ruth Stout was a beloved advocate of simple living and organic gardening, and her books, including Gardening Without Work, popularized her style of simple living to millions.
Company Coming was first published in 1958, and is volume 2 of our Ruth Stout Classics series. Visit http://www.nortoncreekpress.com for more of Ruth Stout's classic books.