Writer and editor Randall Stewart was born in Fayetteville in 1896. In 1898 his family moved to Nashville, where he grew up and was educated through his undergraduate years at Vanderbilt, from which he was graduated in 1917 as the founder’s medalist. He did his graduate work at Harvard (M.A., 1921) and Yale (Ph.D., 1930).
Stewart’s famous edition of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s American Notebooks, in which he restored passages omitted and bowdlerized by Mrs. Hawthorne, was published by Yale University Press in 1932. It was followed by Stewart’s edition of Hawthorne’s English Notebooks (1941) and his life of Hawthorne (1948). His American Literature and Christian Doctrine appeared in 1958. From 1929 to 1963 he published dozens of articles and reviews on American letters from the Puritans through William Faulkner.
Stewart edited many textbooks for Scott, Foresman, chiefly with Walter Blair, Theodore Hornberger, and Dorothy Bethurum; his textbooks included the pioneering and durable anthology The Literature of the South, edited with R. C. Beatty, Floyd C. Watkins, and Thomas D. Young. Stewart’s editing was part and parcel of his great contribution to the making of American literature as an essential part of the academic curriculum in this country and abroad.
With Louis D. Rubin Jr., Stewart was responsible for the Fugitive reunion at Vanderbilt in 1956. That important occasion was a defining event in modern southern literary studies as well as a watershed in Vanderbilt’s history and its awkward relation with the Fugitives and Agrarians, some of whom, such as John Crowe Ransom and Robert Penn Warren, are among its most distinguished graduates.
In addition to his two appointments as professor at Vanderbilt (1934-37 and 1955-64), Randall Stewart was long associated with Yale and Brown. Under his chairmanship, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Vanderbilt English department experienced the last of its salad days.