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Collie, Ruth

Main entryCollie, Ruth
Birth placeCambridge, England
Birth dateNovember 1888
Death placeWestminster, London, England
Death date5 or 6 March 1936
Birth nameRuth Jacobs
Alternate namesWilhelmina Stitch; Sheila Rand
Married nameCollie
Marital statusmarried
Religious affiliationJewish
Paid workjournalist; writer; lecturer
Other workdoctor's wife
BiographyThe "Poem A Day Lady," Ruth Jacobs (1888-1936), was the daughter of a bookseller and accountant, and granddaughter of the rabbi of the Great Synogogue in London, England. Born and educated in Cambridge, England, she came to Winnipeg after her 1908 marriage to Elisha Arakie Cohen K.C. (1877-1919), barrister and lecturer on Law at the University of Manitoba. That same year, she met scientist-poet Reginald Buller, with whom she would share a close friendship for the duration of her residence in Winnipeg. (Buller believed Ruth had telepathic powers, though his tests could never confirm it.) Meanwhile, Arakie and Ruth had one son, Ralph, who later became a celebrated professor of Economics. Late in life, Ruth admitted that while her British schooling in classical literature had led her to high-brow tastes, her time in Canada "humanized" her. "Mortimer Place," her home in Winnipeg, kept her happy and at work designing and dictating her domestic decor. She began journalistic pursuits in 1913, and after the flu epidemic of 1919 left her a widow, began to work as a copywriter for the T. Eaton Company, as a book reviewer and editor of the women's page for THE WINNIPEG TELEGRAM, and as the literary editor for WESTERN HOME MONTHLY. She initiated the practice of rhymed advertising and began publishing her verse in Canada as "Sheila Rand," the same name she had used to write affectionate poems during her relationship with Buller. After marrying Dr. Frank Lang Collie (1864-1941) in 1923, Ruth returned to England. She gained fame as "Wilhelmina Stitch" with her daily "Fragrant Minute" poems that were syndicated in various British papers and journals. In London, she published over a score of small volumes of verse, including a three-volume collection of her "Fragrant Minute" poems in 1925 and 1926. Many of her poems, or "Memory Gems," were memorized by British schoolchildren. In the last seven years of her life, she made regular winter visits to Canada and United States, where she offered public lectures and sermons, sometimes one every day over a fifty-day tour. Wealthy but exhausted, Ruth died after a brief illness and heart affliction in 1936, seven months before son Ralph's untimely death en route to Shanghai. Her sizable estate was in part cared for by her literary agent, Leonard Parker Moore. In addition to her own works, Ruth translated many of the stanzas of the Hebrew poet Yahuda Halevi.
Other notesRuth's daughter-in-law, and mother of Ruth's sole descendent (Elizabeth Arakie), was Margaret Alice Arakie, author of BROKEN SWORD OF JUSTICE. Ruth's brother, Norman Leonard Jacobs, was an engineer and surveyor for the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. Sister Dorothea settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where she raised a family.
ResidencesCambridge, England (1888); St. Andrew the Less, Cambridgeshire (1891); Paddington, London (1901); England (-1908); Mortimer Place, St. John's, Winnipeg (1908-1923); London, England (1923-); Hove, Sussex; London (-1936)
Geographic regionsEngland; Manitoba
Primary genrespoetry; journalism
Books(all published under "Wilhemina Stitch"; selected titles) SILKEN THREADS (1927); HOMESPUN (1928); JOY'S LOOM (1928); THE GOLDEN WEB (1928); WHERE SUNLIGHT FALLS (1929); TAPESTRIES (1931); THE WILHELMINA STITCH BOOKLETS (6 vols 1934); WOMEN OF THE BIBLE (1935)
Other publicationsAnthologized in: Garvin, CANADIAN POEMS OF THE GREAT WAR (1918)
OrganizationsCouncil of Women Journalists
Father's nameIsaiah Woolf Jacobs
Life dates of fatherc1858, Oxfordshire, England - 1944, Devon Central, England; m. 1884
Father's notebookseller; accountant at Jacobs and Law, London (bankrupt 1899); employed by family businesses in London, Pittsburgh, and Detroit; "Hebrew"; came to North America in 1912
Mother's nameJosephine Hast
Life dates of mother4 February 1863, Poland - after 1930, (possibly) Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Mother's notedaughter of Marcus Hast, Chazan of the Great Synagogue of London and collector and composer of music
Spouse 1Elisha Arakie Cohen
Life dates of spouse 122 May 1877, Rangoon, Burma - 9 March 1919, Manitoba
Spouse 1 notebarrister, K.C.; lecturer, Law
Marriage 1 date1908
Marriage 1 placeCambridge, England
Spouse 2Major Frank Lang Collie, M.D.
Life dates of spouse 218 March 1864, Aberdeen, Scotland - 27 October 1941, Hampshire, England
Spouse 2 notemedical doctor at Balham, London; superintendent at Colonial Hospital, Natal; partner with Sir William Berry, Cape Town Legislative Assembly speaker
Marriage 2 date1923
Marriage 2 placeWinnipeg, Manitoba
Children number1
Children's names and datesRalph Cohen ("Ralph Arakie") (June 1910 - early October 1936), m. to Margaret Alice
Biographical references"Letter Reveals More of Writer" in THE WINDSOR DAILY STAR (13 March 1936); "Former Winnipeg Writer Succumbs" in THE MONTREAL GAZETTE (7 March 1936); Goldsborough, "Ruth Jacobs Cohen Collie" on MEMORABLE MANITOBANS, The Manitoba Historical Society (Web, 2011); 1891 Census of Canada; 1901 Census of Canada; 1911 Census of Canada; 1916 Canada Census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta; England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1861-1941
Bibliographic referencesBritish Library Catalogue
Research referencescomplete
Archival referencesseveral letters to Annie Charlotte Dalton, Dalton papers, University of British Columbia Archives and Special Collections; references, Reginald Buller Papers, University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections
Image creditsLine drawing by Una Vernelli (Vancouver, British Columbia).
CopyrightThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) at Please cite Canada's Early Women Writers. SFU Library Digital Collections. Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada. 1980-2014.