Dean, Ruth (Brigham) 1947-

views updated

DEAN, Ruth (Brigham) 1947-


Born May 11, 1947, in Salem, MA; daughter of Richard B. (a lawyer) and Chloe Tyler (Walker) Johnson; married Jonathan Dean (an attorney), September 22, 1966; children: Ann C., Alexander J. Education: University of Akron, B.A. (summa cum laude), 1984, M.A. (English), 1987.


Office—The Writing Toolbox, 1221 West Market St., Akron, OH 44313. E-mail—[email protected].


Writer. University of Akron—Wayne College, Orville, OH, coordinator of Writing Center, 1986-91; Ryerson Management Associates, Akron, OH, senior technical writer, 1990-93; The Writing Toolbox, Akron, president, 1993—. President of Women's Endowment Fund of Akron Community Foundation.


(With Melissa Thomson) Teen Prostitution, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 1998.

(With Melissa Thomson) Life in the American Colonies, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 1999.

(With Melissa Thomson) Women of the Middle Ages, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 2003.

The Value of Integrity: A Memoir Celebrating the Ninetieth Anniversary of Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, LLP, Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, LLP (Akron, OH), 2003.


(With Melissa Thomson, Norma Rist, and Stephen Grant) Ten Steps to a Great Business Name; a history of Akron public schools' Head Start program.


Ruth Dean is a nonfiction writer who has teamed up with fellow writer Melissa Thomson to pen several young-adult titles for Lucent Books. Their Life in the American Colonies covers a myriad of topics, being careful to distinguish differences between the settlements in the north and south of the country in matters such as immigrant populations, ownership of slaves, organization of cities and towns, common professions, and relations with Native American groups. Other topics covered include the home, the frontier, farm life, science, health, and technology, as well as the life of children, men's and women's attire, and food and cooking. The result is "a clearly written and well-organized look at Colonial America," according to Debbie Feulner, a reviewer for School Library Journal. Booklist contributor Carolyn Phelan noted that "the text itself brings up many interesting points about the period," supported by quotes from original source material that is cited in a reference section.

Dean and Thomson have also collaborated on other books, including Teen Prostitution, which examines the extent of this social problem, several of its causes, and available resources for help, and Women of the Middle Ages, a work School Library Journal contributor Tina Cohen predicted would "fill …a gap" in many libraries.

"My 'writing career' didn't really have a starting point," Dean told CA. "I have been scribbling on bits of paper since I was old enough to hold a pencil. My family taught me to love books, plays, poems, and telling stories, and I have continued to work with words, as a reader and a writer, throughout my life.

"After seven years of teaching freshman composition courses at the University of Akron and its branch campus in Orville, Ohio, I got a job writing for a management consulting company. Here I learned how to write fast, to do spreadsheets and charts, and to create writing that would work in the world of business.

"In 1993, I established my own company, The Writing Toolbox. We focus on helping businesses and other organizations tell their stories, directly in the case of a history written for a law firm, or indirectly in the case of sales and marketing materials for businesses of all kinds.…

"When we were given the opportunity to write books for young people, we were delighted, although I must say that the only title then available in the Lucent series, Teen Prostitution, was a real challenge, both to research and to frame in the required 'balanced' terms. Balanced between what and what? We finally realized that we could frame this topic as a contrast between teen prostitutes as criminals and as victims of abuse. It was hard to face up to this material and hard to find ways to present it that might be appropriate for teen readers. I think the result was successful, though.

" Life in the American Colonies was much more fun to research, especially for [coauthor] Melissa, who was born in Dublin, Ireland, and therefore did not grow up learning about American history in school. We are especially pleased with the chapters on colonial technology and on Native Americans. We are very proud of the fact that this book was well reviewed in Booklist.

"It is difficult to work the research necessary to write a Lucent book into a very busy schedule, but when the Women of the Middle Ages title was offered, we could not resist. (I was a medievalist when I was in graduate school.) It was fascinating to see what has been learned about this topic as researchers have gone back over the available documents searching for women's names and information on their activities.

"Throughout my career as a teacher, writer, and business marketer, my focus really has been the same: to make information clear to a non-specialist. How can an American teenager come to understand what it was like to be a newlywed thirteen-year-old medieval duchess, who suddenly would have responsibility for managing six castles and hundreds of workers when her husband was called away to war? How does a teen runaway survive on the streets of an American city? What did the founders of the United States learn from Native American tribal governments that enabled them to establish one of the world's longest-lasting democracies?

"While it's unlikely that any of these books will be made into a major motion picture (or even a minor one), it is rewarding to see them on library shelves, and to talk to people who say, 'I never realized that!' about something I've written."



Booklist, May 1, 1999, Carolyn Phelan, review of Life in the American Colonies, p. 1592.

Horn Book Guide, fall, 1998, Carolyn Shute, review of Teen Prostitution, p. 357.

School Library Journal, July, 1999, Debbie Feulner, review of Life in the American Colonies, p. 105; August, 2003, Tina Cohen, review of Women of the Middle Ages, p. 172.