Grace Stone Coates

Format: Paperback & Hardcover
ISBN: 1-931832-51-X and 1-931832-52-8
Author: Lee Rostad
Pages: 336

WILLA Award

Grace Stone Coates

Her Life in Letters

by Lee Rostad

Kansas-born Grace Stone was a young teacher in the mining cit of Butte, Montana, when she married Henderson Coates in 1910. They moved to the fledgling town of Martinsdale, Montana, where Henderson and his brother built a general store. Coates wrote her father that she had been brought into ‘an alien land.’ Although Coates lived in the Musselshell Valley for the next 55 years, she always felt a soul apart.

Coated found another life in her writing. From about 1920 until 1935, Coates immersed herself in poetry, short stories, and letters. She published two books of poetry and an acclaimed novel, ‘Black Cherries.’ The poetry is passionate, the short stories are intense and revealing, but it is in the spontaneity of her letters where the real story of Coates is found. She remarked it was ‘her soul’s delight – spreading myself on letters.’

Historian Lee Rostad has skillfully edited this rich legacy of correspondence into an intimate biography. It is an adventure to find the real person behind the demure housewife who wrote the local news for the county newspapers and who hunted and fished with her husband.

$19.95 - Paperback

$26.95 - Hardcover

$5 off this book when you purchase a copy of the new novel, Clear Title, by Grace Stone Coates. See here.

About the Author

Lee Rostad was born in Roundup, Montana, graduted from the University of Montana, and spent a year doing graduate work in London before marrying Phil Rostad, a rancher in the Musselshell Valley. Like Grace Stone Coates, she took her turn at writing the local news for the weekly newspapers and took time from her ranch and cooking chores to write magazine articles. She is the author of “Honey Wine and Hunger Root” “Fourteen Cents and Seven Green Apples” and “Mountains of Gold, Hills of Grass. She is co-author of “Meagher County Sketchbook”. In 1995, Lee received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from Rocky Mountain College and in 2001 received the Governor’s Award in Humanities. She currently serves on the Montana Historical Society Board of Trustees.



Press Release

Writer’s life revealed in intimate letters

Women will be drawn to the highly praised biography of “Black Cherries” author Grace Stone Coates, but anyone interested in literature will be rewarded by this personal portrait of a housewife who lived two lives, the ordinary and the brilliant, in a small Montana town.

“Grace Stone Coates: Her Life in Letters” (Riverbend) by Lee Rostad is “a richly textured and deeply insightful biography of one of Montana’s, and this nation’s, finest writers,” said Rick Newby, editor of “The New Montana Story.”

Mary Clearman Blew, author of “All But the Waltz” and “Bone Deep in Landscape,” said, “Grace Stone Coates’ poetry and fiction at last is becoming available to the wide reading audience that it deserves, thanks to Lee Rostad’s meticulous research and determination. This book is an invaluable source for anyone interested in women’s writing, regional writing, fine writing.”

Grace Stone was a young teacher in the rough-and-tumble mining city of Butte, Montana, when she married Henderson Coates in 1910. They moved to the fledgling town of Martinsdale, where Henderson and his brother built a general store. Of the move, Coates wrote she had been brought “into an alien land.” Although Coates lived in the Musselshell Valley for the next 55 years, she always felt a soul apart.

Coates found another life in her writing. From about 1920 until 1935, Coates immersed herself in poetry, short stories, and letters. She published two books of poetry and the acclaimed novel, “Black Cherries.” The poetry is passionate, the short stories are intense and revealing, but it is in the spontaneity of her letters where the real story of Coates is found. She remarked it was “her soul’s delight—spreading myself on letters.”

From her small town, Coates had a long correspondence with William Saroyan (“The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze”), a young man in San Francisco who became one of America’s most celebrated writers and who always credited Coates with influencing his work. She regularly exchanged letters with Montana literary lion H.G. Merriam, Native American writer Frank Bird Linderman, Charles M. Russell art historian James Rankin, and others. Coates died in Bozeman in 1976 at the age of 94.

Coates’ historian Lee Rostad, who previously wrote about Grace Stone Coates in her book “Honey Wine and Hunger Root,” has skillfully edited this rich legacy of correspondence into an intimate biography. It is an adventure to find the real person behind the demure housewife who wrote the local news for the county newspapers and who hunted and fished with her husband.



Reviews

Biography of Grace Stone Coates honored with book award

WILLA Award Winner

Montana book receives literary award

A highly praised book by a Montana author has received a national literary award.

“Grace Stone Coates: Her Life in Letters” (Riverbend) by historian Lee Rostad of White Sulphur Springs was named a finalist in the category of memoirs and essays for the 2005 WILLA Literary Awards. The book is about 20th century writer and literary critic Grace Stone Coates, who lived in Martinsdale.

The 2005 WILLA Literary Award represents the best in literature published during 2004 for women’s stories set in the West. The nationally recognized award is sponsored by Women Writing the West, a non-profit association of writers and other professionals.

Rick Newby, a Montana poet and editor of “The New Montana Story,” said Rostad’s book “is a richly textured and deeply insightful biography of one of Montana’s, and this nation’s, finest writers.”

Mary Clearman Blew, author of “All But the Waltz” and “Bone Deep in Landscape,” also praised the book as an invaluable source for anyone interested in women’s writing, regional writing, fine writing.”

Rostad, currently the president of the Montana Historical Society board of trustees, has long been fascinated by Coates. She met Coates when Rostad was a young woman and Coates was nearing the end of her life.

“Coates seemed to live two lives, the ordinary and the brilliant, in a small Montana town,” Rostad said. “On one hand she was a demure housewife who wrote the local news for the county newspapers and hunted and fished with her husband. But she also wrote passionate poetry and stories, and she kept up lively correspondence with other writers far and wide. Occasionally she traveled to New York.”

Grace Stone was a young teacher in the rough-and-tumble mining city of Butte when she married Henderson Coates in 1910. They moved to the fledgling town of Martinsdale, where Henderson and his brother built a general store. Of the move, Coates said she had been brought “into an alien land.” Although Coates lived in the Musselshell Valley for the next 55 years, she always felt a soul apart.

Coates found another life in writing. From about 1920 until 1935, Coates immersed herself in poetry, short stories, and letters. She published two books of poetry and the acclaimed novel, “Black Cherries.”

From her small town, Coates had a long correspondence with William Saroyan, a young writer in San Francisco who became one of America’s most celebrated writers and who credited Coates with influencing his work. She regularly exchanged letters with Montana literary lion H.G. Merriam, Native American writer Frank Bird Linderman, Charles M. Russell art historian James Rankin, and others. Coates died in Bozeman in 1976 at the age of 94.

Rostad said Coates' poetry is passionate and her short stories are intense, but Coates the woman is revealed in the spontaneity of her letters. “She was well aware of the social norms of the day but inside, she was a bit of a rebel,” Rostad said, “In her letters there is even a hint of an affair.”


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