The writer Ruth Stephan (born Charlotte Ruth Walgreen) published her first poems in the late 1930s in venues such as Harper's, Poetry, and Forum, and her first volume, Prelude to Poetry, was published in 1946. With her husband, the painter John Stephan, she founded and edited the influential quarterly magazine The Tiger's Eye (1947-1951), which showcased the work of artists and writers with particular emphasis on abstract expressionism. In addition to further volumes of poetry, her work includes two novels based on the life of Queen Christina of Sweden, The Flight (1956) and My Crown, My Love (1960); a volume of translated Quechua stories and songs, The Singing Mountaineers (1957); an audio compilation, The Spoken Anthology of American Literature (1963); and a documentary film, Zen in Ryoko-in (1971). Her philanthropic work included establishing a poetry center at the University of Arizona in 1960.
Stephan was born in Chicago on January 21, 1910, the daughter of drugstore founder Charles R. Walgreen and Myrtle Norton Walgreen. She attended Northwestern University but left without a degree in 1929 when she married Justin W. Dart, with whom she had two sons. Unsupported by her family when she began to take herself seriously as a writer, she divorced Dart in 1939. Later that same year she married the painter John Stephan; their only child, a son, was born in 1941. In 1942 the Stephans moved to Westport, Connecticut, where they founded The Tiger's Eye in 1947. This venture lasted until 1951, when the work of producing the magazine threatened to overtake the couple's own creative work. In 1961, Ruth Stephan divorced John Stephan and spent time traveling in Japan and Southeast Asia, where she became interested in Zen Buddhism. In 1966 she married John C. Franklin, a scientist, and lived the remainder of her life in Greenwich, Connecticut. She died in North Salem, New York, on April 9, 1974.
Much of the information in this biographical sketch is drawn from: Stephan, John J., "Ruth Stephan (1910-74): A Tribute" ( Yale University Library Gazette, April 1976).
From the guide to the Ruth Stephan papers, 1915-1974, (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)