Authors: Stark Young

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

American novelist and critic

Author Works

Long Fiction:

Heaven Trees, 1926

The Torches Flare, 1928

River House, 1929

So Red the Rose, 1934

Short Fiction:

The Street of the Islands, 1930

Feliciana, 1935


Guenevere, pb. 1906

Addio, Madretta, and Other Plays, pb. 1912

The Queen of Sheba, pb. 1922

The Colonnade, pb. 1924

The Saint, pb. 1925


The Blind Man at the Window, 1906


The Flower in Drama, 1923 (criticism)

The Three Fountains, 1924 (travel)

Glamour, 1925 (theatrical criticism)

Encaustics, 1926 (essays and sketches)

Theatre Practice, 1926

The Theatre, 1927

Immortal Shadows, 1948 (theatrical criticism)

The Pavilion, 1951 (reminiscence)


Stark Young, known chiefly as the author of So Red the Rose and often ranked as a minor figure among the Southern Agrarians, was born in Mississippi in 1881. When a typhoid epidemic closed the preparatory school he was attending, he was allowed to enter the University of Mississippi at the age of fourteen. After graduating in 1901 he continued his studies at Columbia University, from which he received his master’s degree in English in 1902.{$I[AN]9810000028}{$I[A]Young, Stark}{$I[geo]UNITED STATES;Young, Stark}{$I[tim]1881;Young, Stark}

His first career was in the classroom. After a short period of teaching in a military school for boys he became an instructor in English at the University of Mississippi in 1904. Three years later he joined the faculty of the University of Texas, where he taught until 1915, when he became professor of English at Amherst College. In 1921 he resigned to become a member of the editorial staff of the New Republic, a position he held until 1947, except for one year (1924-1925) when he served as drama critic of The New York Times. Concurrently he was an associate editor of Theatre Arts Monthly from 1921 to 1940. His close association with the theater resulted in five books of drama criticism, the plays he wrote in both prose and verse, translations, and the direction of several productions, including that of Henri-René Lenormand’s The Failures and Eugene O’Neill’s Welded, on Broadway.

Young’s most sustained work was in the novel. So Red the Rose, one of the earliest and most popular of the Civil War novels, achieves scope and depth because the writer has dramatized against a factual historical background the symbolic conflict between opposing forces of tradition and disintegration implicit in southern life and character. This novel and Young’s earlier ones–Heaven Trees, a nostalgic re-creation of plantation life in antebellum days, and The Torches Flare and River House, which deal with later periods of the regional experience–make up, in effect, four panels of a dramatic and somberly realized social and moral history of the South. Young also declared his local loyalties in an essay in I’ll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition, written for a symposium by “Twelve Southerners” and published in 1930.

BibliographyBentley, Eric. “Stark Young.” Theater 14, no. 1 (Winter, 1982).Harder, Kelsie B. “Dialect Duplicity in Stark Young’s So Red the Rose.” Mississippi Folklore Register 16, no. 2 (Fall, 1982).Miller, J. W. “Stark Young, Chekhov, and the Method of Indirect Action.” Georgia Review 18 (1964).Pilkington, John. Stark Young. Boston: Twayne, 1985.Sommers, John J. “The Critic as Playwright: A Study of Stark Young’s The Saint.” Modern Drama 7 (February, 1965).The Southern Quarterly: A Journal of the Arts in the South 24, no. 4 (Summer, 1986).Young, Stark. Stark Young, a Life in the Arts: Letters, 1900-1962. Edited by John Pilkington. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1975.
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