Jesse Stuart (August 8, 1906—February 17, 1984)
Jesse Stuart was born August 8, 1906 in W-Hollow, near Riverton, Kentucky, the son of Mitchell and Martha Hilton Stuart. After graduation from local schools, he attended Lincoln Memorial University, graduating in 1929, and went on to attend graduate school at Vanderbilt University and Peabody College. He taught school in Greenup County, Kentucky, and Portsmouth, Ohio, and served as superintendent of Greenup County schools from 1932 until 1934.
In 1934, his first major book of verse, Man with a Bull-Tongued Plow, appeared, and he received the Jeannette Sewal Davis poetry prize. In 1937, the award of a Guggenheim fellowship allowed him to travel abroad. During World War II he served in the United States Naval Reserve, attaining the rank of lieutenant (junior grade). He resumed his travels abroad by accepting the position of visiting professor of English and education at the American University, Cairo, Egypt, during 1960 and 1961; in 1962 and 1963 he served as an American specialist abroad for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the State Department. He also traveled in the Middle and Far East as a lecturer for the United States Information Service. He was the recipient of many awards, among them the Academy of Arts and Sciences award, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial award, the Berea College Centennial award for literature, the Academy of American Poets award, several honorary degrees, and a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize. In 1958 he appeared on Ralph Edwards' This Is Your Life! In 1939, he married Naomi Deane Norris; their daughter, Jessica Jane Stuart, is also an accomplished author and poet. Prior to his death on February 17, 1984, Jesse Stuart had been seriously ill and bedfast for four years, following a long history of heart attacks and a massive stroke. He was buried in the Plum Grove cemetery near his home in W-Hollow. For more information on Jesse click here.