Robert Chester Ruark, Jr.
(DECEMBER 29, 1915 - JULY 1, 1965)
Journalist and Novelist -
NORTH CAROLINA NATIVE SON
Robert Ruark is, perhaps, the most well loved and respected author to emerge from Eastern North Carolina.
His boyhood was spent in Wilmington and Southport. After graduating from New Hanover High School at the age of 12, he attended the University of North Carolina, where he graduated from in 1935.
His best selling book, The Old Man and the Boy, is based on his hunting, fishing and camping experiences with his grandfather, Capt. Edward Adkins, a retired river pilot.
During World War II, he served as a merchant seaman and later as a naval gunnery officer. Returning to his passion for writing after the war. Ruark began writing for the Washington Daily News and achieved national prominence in over 180 newspapers as a syndicated columnist for the Scripps Howard newspaper chain.
“I think his North Carolina pieces are just terrific,” said Bland Simpson, director of the creative writing program in the UNC English Department. “Some people may find some of his attitudes dated on some subjects, but his observations of how things were done in the field at the time, were really on the money.”
“It is some of the best ‘portraiture in words’ of hunting, fishing and life in the field that we have.”
In 1953, he established his permanent residence in Palamos, near Barcelona, Spain, where he wrote his best-selling novels.
His novel, Something of Value, brought him international acclaim. Based on the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya during the early ‘50’s, the book and its adaptation in the MGM movie, created a powerful narrative of African Nationalism. His literary style and, in some respects his lifestyle, resembled that of Ernest Hemingway, whom he knew and greatly admired.
Perhaps one of Ruark’s letters in his collection, best describes his confidence in his writing gained from his trips to Africa.
I would never have had the courage to quit the safety of New York without Africa’s constant beckon. Without the African experience, there would have been no topics for the scores of articles and stories and the two books which have combined to make me financially secure…
In May 1957, Robert Ruark visited the UNC Campus at Chapel Hill where he remembered and praised the professors he most admired: Professor O.J. Coffin of the English Department, Professor J.P. Harland of the Archeology Department, Phillips Russell in the Creative Writing Department, and Wallace Caldwell, Historian. However, Ruark did not forget his fraternity brothers at the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity. He purchased an ice machine, one of the first in the Chapel Hill area, as a gift to his old fraternity.
On July 1, 1965, Robert Ruark, who had lived life to the fullest, died ina London Hospital at the age of 49. All of Ruark’s manuscripts, letters, syndicated newspaper columns, books, and magazine articles, totaling over 5,000 items, were left to The University of North Carolina. They are now housed in the Wilson Library.
In the year 2000, he was inducted into the North Carolina Hall of Fame with the likes of Thomas Wolfe.
In 2009 he was inducted into the UNC School of Journalism & Mass Communication’s Hall of Fame.
News Bureau – The University of North Carolina
Morris, Bill – Ruark’s World Awaits A Visit – News & Observer, December 18, 2003
Wrightsville Beach Magazine – Volume 5, Issue 3, March 2004
Barge, B.L. – Ruark Thesis – UNC English Department – 1969
Southport Art Museum, Southport, NC
Southport Historical Society
The Robert Ruark Foundation, Southport, NC
Welcome to our website...
The Robert Ruark Society is made up of a group of fans from all across Ruark's native North Carolina, the nation and from around the world. We remember Ruark and we want others to remember him, too.
Anyone may join the-is society. There are no dues or fees associated with any individual's membership. Once you provide the society with your contact information you are added to the membership list.
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