Ruth Imogen Stout was the fifth child of Quaker parents John Wallace Stout and Lucetta Elizabeth Todhunter Stout. Her younger brother Rex Stout, an author, was famous for the Nero Wolfe detective stories.
Stout moved to New York when she was 18 and was employed at various times as a nurse, bookkeeper, secretary, business manager, and factory worker. She coordinated lectures and debates and she also owned a small tea shop in Greenwich Village. She worked for a fake mind-reading act.
In 1923, she accompanied fellow Quakers to Russia to assist in famine relief. She met and married Alfred Rossiter in June 1929. In March 1930, the couple moved to Poverty Hollow at Redding Ridge, on the outskirts of Redding, Connecticut.
Ruth continued to use her maiden name as her pen name and Rossiter as her official name. Fred, a Columbia-trained psychologist, followed his passion for wood turning and subsequently became known for his wooden bowls. Ruth decided to try her luck at gardening, and in the spring of 1930, she planted her first garden.
Books in order of publication:
How To Have A Green Thumb Without An Aching Back: A New Method Of Mulch Gardening – 1955
Company Coming: Six Decades of Hospitality – 1958
It’s a Woman’s World: A Bouyant Guide to Easier, More Enjoyable Living – 1960
Gardening Without Work – 1961
The Ruth Stout No-Work Garden Book – 1971
As We Remember Mother – 1975
Don’t Forget To Smile Or How To Stay Sane And Fit Over Ninety – 1990
If You Would Be Happy: Cultivate Your Life Like a Garden – 2016
Gardening Without Work: For the Aging, The Busy and the Indolent – 2021