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Mary Hannah KroutMary Hannah Krout
(1851 - 1927)

Hoosier Connection: Mary Hannah Krout was a Crawfordsville-born author who became a famous newspaper reporter and a leading feminist of her day.

Works Discussed: "Little Brown Hands," "From My Window," "What the Birds Told," "Some Queer Feathered Folk," "Renewal"

Born in 1851 to Robert and Caroline Krout of Crawfordsville, Indiana, this native Hoosier author became a world traveler who traversed the globe in search of stories to be printed in the Chicago Inter-Ocean and Chicago Tribune. She was the oldest of eight children, and after their mother died early in Mary's life, they were raised by their strict father. Mary became one of the leading feminists in Indiana, perhaps in reaction against the strict social structure that she and her other sisters were forced to follow by her father.

As a teenager, Krout began to defy her father's strict ways. Her first major act of rebellion occured in 1866 when her poem entitled “Little Brown Hands,” was published in a magazine and later in a large number of the country’s grade school readers. The poem describes the day of a young child who lives on an Indiana farm:

[The children] gather the delicate sea-weeds,
And build tiny castles of sand;
They pick up the beautiful sea-shells—
Fairy barks that have drifted to land;
They way from the tall, rocking tree-tops,
Where the oriole’s hammock nest swings,
And at night-time are folded in slumber
By a song that a fond mother sings.
(Read full text.)

Krout describes the natural setting around the farm in a romantic tone that continues to be present in her later works.

In another nature-related poem, "From my Window," Krout discusses the seasonal changes of the land:

It [a field] is the spot that Spring finds first,
While yet the drifts in hollow lie;
She grants it kinder winds, her hands
Spread over it a warmer sky;
There Summer lingers, loathe to leave;
There Autumn's rarest colors glow;
Its desolation winter hides
Beneath the purity of snow (25).
(Read full text.)

Personifying the seasons, Krout brings a romantic tone to her examination of nature.

Likewise, in her poem “What the Birds Told,” she anthropomorphizes an owl and lark, who talk about the day:

"What a dreary, sorrowful world is this,"
Said the owl from his hollow tree;
"Yet the lark is glad for the garish light,
And the robin can sing in glee.
Poor, foolish birds, they are merry now,
But the angry storms will beat
Through the leaves that shelter their shallow nests,
With the snow and the cutting sleet" (60).
(Read full text.)

In the essay “Some Queer Feathered Folk,” Krout describes different types of birds that she encountered in her global travels as well as some local examples from her home town of Crawfordsville:

In Crawfordsville, one pair [of wrens] graciously accepted the assistance of the sparrows in feeding their young which are amongst the most voracious of their kind. A single young wren, I was told by a competent naturalist, could eat its weight in insects within twenty four hours (11).
(Read full text.)

Krout explains the everyday "habits of birds" in detail, in much the same way as the famous Hoosier naturalist and writer Gene Stratton-Porter.

In the poem "Renewal," Krout again describes nature with a romantic and reverent tone:

It is the time of singing birds and flowers,
The Vernal showers
Fill all the April air with rich perfume,
Presaging leaf and bloom (1).
(Read full text.)

A prolific writer for newspapers and periodicals, Mary Hannah Krout made quite a mark on Indiana by becoming a famous journalist as well as a feminist. Though much of her writing focused on her travels around the world, her early poetry focused on her familiar surroundings in Indiana.



Banta, R. E., ed. "Mary H. Krout." Indiana Authors and Their Books, 1816-1916; Biographical Sketches of Authors Who Published during the First Century of Indiana Statehood, with Lists of Their Books. Crawfordsville, IN: Wabash College, 1949.

Krout, Mary H. "From My Window." Krout mss. Lilly Library, Indiana U, Bloomington, IN.

---. "Little Brown Hands" (1866). Krout mss. Lilly Library, Indiana U, Bloomington, IN.

---. "Renewal." Krout mss. Lilly Library, Indiana U, Bloomington, IN.

---. "Some Queer Feathered Folk." Krout mss. Lilly Library, Indiana U, Bloomington, IN.

---. "What the Birds Told." Krout mss. Lilly Library, Indiana U, Bloomington, IN.

White, George R. Indiana Scrapbook Collection. Vol. 9., 27 May 1916.


Archives, Crawfordsville District Public Library. Crawfordsville, IN.