Jesse Stuart Famous Kentucky author

Jesse Hilton Stuart was born on August 8, 1906 and died on February 17, 1984. Jesse was an American writer, school teacher, and school administrator who is known for his short stories, poetry, and novels as well as non-fiction autobiographical works set in central Appalachia. Born and raised in Greenup County, Kentucky, Stuart relied heavily on the rural location of northeastern Kentucky for his writings.

Early Life

Jesse Stuart was born near Riverton, Greenup County, Kentucky, to Mitchell and Martha Stuart on August 8, 1906. Stuart served in the US Navy during World War II but did not seek military life as his career. In 1939, Stuart married Naomi Deane Norris, a school teacher. They settled in W Hollow and had one daughter, Jessica Jane.


After being denied admission to three colleges, Stuart was finally accepted to and attended Lincoln Memorial University, near Harrogate, Tennessee. After graduating he returned to his home area and taught at Warnock High School in Greenup, Kentucky. Later he was appointed principal at McKell High School, but resigned after one year to attend graduate school at Vanderbilt University. He then served as superintendent of the Greenup County Schools before ending his career as an English teacher at Portsmouth High School in Portsmouth, Ohio.

Old Ben

Old Ben is one of Jesse Stuart's chapter books. Read the summary below.

For Shan, it began as an ordinary summer's day. He was doing what he liked best, walking barefoot down a well worn cow path to a clover field where he knew a sweet apple tree grew.

Then he met Old Ben, a big bull black snake, sunning himself in the clover, and that summer day and all the days that followed, until early fall, became extraordinary.

A Penny's Worth of Character

A Penny's Worth of Character is another Jesse Stuart chapter book. Read the summary below.

Shan Shelton is going to the store for his mother. If he had a dime, he could buy his favorite treat, a chocolate bar and a lemon soda pop.

Shan knows that Mr. Conley, the storekeeper, pays a penny each for good used paper sacks returned to the store. There are ten sacks at home, but Shan's mother tells him to take only nine to Mr. Conley, because the tenth sack has a hole in it. Shan wants a chocolate bar and a lemon soda pop so much, he disobeys his mother and takes the tenth sack. He carries the sack with the hole in it concealed among the nine good sacks, hoping Mr. Conley won't notice it.

Mr. Conley overlooks it, but Shan, eating his chocolate bar and drinking his lemon soda pop, discovers something is wrong inside him and all around him.


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