Ruddy, Ella Giles

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RUDDY, Ella Giles

Born 1851, near Jefferson, Wisconsin; died 26 June 1917, Los Angeles, California

Also wrote under: Ella Giles

Daughter of H. H. and Augusta Giles; married George D.Ruddy, 1895

Ella Giles Ruddy's father was a railroad representative and politician. Ruddy studied at the University of Wisconsin and at Medford Theological College and was an active clubwoman. She was a member of the Unitarian Church and was a city librarian for many years. After her marriage, Ruddy moved to Los Angeles and later to Venice, California. She attended the Friday Morning Club and founded the Los Angeles Political Equality League for woman suffrage, in which she was an officer until 1910.

Out from the Shadows; or, Trial and Triumph (1876) catalogues the diverse types of American womanhood. Helen Lowell personifies the perfect woman. She endures a sour marriage to a drunkard and keeps the family alive by running a boardinghouse. Unjustly accused of poisoning her husband, Helen even endures prison with patience. Melinda Corson is the villain. A jealous, devious female of the worst sort, she incites Mr. Lowell to poison himself and lets Helen undergo a jury trial and loss of reputation rather than explain her own role in the tragedy. Finally, however, the natural goodness of womanhood prevails and even Melinda tells the truth and takes her just punishment.

Maiden Rachel (1879) is a testimony to spinsterhood. Written when the author was twenty-eight and unmarried, it is an endorsement of Mary A. Livermore's remarks on the merits of single women at the 1875 meeting of the Association for the Advancement for Women. Instead of being pitied for her inability to create a wholesome environment for a husband and children, Rachel is lauded for the good works she does for all of society. Ruddy insists that all women, regardless of their marital status, possess an intrinsic sensitivity and moral superiority that will bring love and service to the world.

For Ella Wheeler Wilcox, another Wisconsin writer, Ruddy compiled a date book, with quotations from Wilcox's poems and blank pages for the diarist's entries. The Story of a Literary Career, by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1905) contains an account of Wilcox's early life and a description of her summer home near New Haven and its furnishings.

The Mother of Clubs (1906) is a laudatory biography of Caroline Severance, which claimed that Severance founded the New England Woman's Club before Jane Croly founded Sorosis in New York City, thereby winning national acclaim for Severance's farsightedness in "mothering" the widespread club movement for women. It is rich in quotations from letters to Severance, her speeches and writings, and reminiscences by prominent reformers of the 19th century

Club Etiquette (1902) attempts to be a witty attack on club members' habits. It deals with the problems of women hyphenating their last names to retain their maiden names, their difficulties in calling on social superiors at home, and the discourtesy of club officers who complain of the time, tact, and money required by their station.

Other Works:

Bachelor Ben (1875). Flowers of the Spirit (1891). Lace o' Me Life (1906).

The Ella Giles Ruddy papers are housed in the State Historical Society of Wisconsin.

Bibliography:

Los Angeles Examiner (14 Oct. 1904). Madison Democrat (27 June 1917).

—KAREN J. BLAIR

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