Martha Bennett Stiles

Martha Bennett Stiles is the prize-winning author of LONESOME ROAD, and of 11 books for younger readers, including SAILING TO FREEDOM and ONE AMONG THE INDIANS.

Sailing to Freedom

Me & brother George the year the James River froze

On "Innisfree," the James River-bank farm where I grew up, me, my older sister Anne, 2 blue-eyed Saanens

For climbing down our 50' bluff, a landslide beat beach steps!


Martha Bennett Stiles is the prizewinning author of ten books and numerous magazine stories for young people. She has also published two adult novels (the Star in the Forest and Lonesome Road) and dozens of stories and articles in periodicals ranging from Esquire and The New York Times to TriQuarterly and Georgia Review.

For some REVIEWS of some of Martha's books, click on a title in the right-hand column. SEE http:/​/​ FOR REVIEWS OF THE OTHER 8-- Darkness Over the Land, The Star in the Forest, Sarah the Dragon Lady, Kate of Still Waters, The Strange House at Newburyport, Tana and the Useless Monkey, James the Vine Puller, Dougal Looks for Birds

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Martha earned a Bachelor of Science Degree with high distinction from the University of Michigan and then, until she married, worked for the DuPont Company in Richmond, VA.

Says Martha,
My first book, One Among the Indians,is set where I grew up. It's about a 13 y.o. English boy who was swapped to Pocahontas's father for a hostage. One Among the Indians was reissued as an Authors Guild-iUniverse paperback to commemorate Jamestown's 400th anniversary.

    "My second book, The Strange House at Newburyport, concerns the Underground Railroad and a haunted house. For it, I owe everything to kind, savvy librarians and interlibrary loans. Although Newburyport was the home of my father's first American ancestors, it was only after Strange House's publication that I was able to get to Massachusetts and thrill to discover that, thanks to those librarians, Newburyport lay just as my heroines had observed.

    "Newburyport is also the setting for the beginning and climax of my fifth middle-grade novel, Sailing to Freedom, and this time I've seen what I describe.

    "About two very different boys, one black, one white, and their danger-filled experiences with the Underground Railroad, Sailing to Freedom, was published in 2012 by Henry Holt and re-issued as a paperback in 2014. Kentucky's exhibit choice for 2012's National Book Fest, Sailing to Freedom made the second cut for the 2013 Crystal Kite Award, is one of Bank Street Children's Books of the Year, a Tri-State Committee Book of Note and a 2015 Sequoyah Award nominee .    

    "I have taught creative writing at the Universities of Kentucky and Louisville, and in residencies at Kentucky’s Estill County Middle School, Bate Middle School, and Louisville Collegiate School, experiences I greatly cherish, though it was humbling to have some students more imaginative than I.

    "I have served on the staffs of Writers Conferences from Detroit, Michigan to Charleston, South Carolina, spoken at schools from Corvallis, Oregon to Newburyport, Massachusetts, and enjoyed every one.

    "I am happy making presentations to groups of any age--having been a good many ages myself."

Four Recent Titles

Hardcover ISBN 978-0-8050-9238-7 Paperback ISBN 978-1-250-03991-0

12 y.o. Ray's in trouble from the moment he and his monkey, Allie, board the Newburyport Beauty. But when bounty hunters come looking for a runaway slave, it’s Ray and Allie who must save hideaway, crew, vessel and all. Meanwhile that runaway’s 11- y.o. brother, Ogun, makes his desperate brave way north.

"The narrative races along, like one of those Bluegrass Thoroughbreds in the setting of this marvelous novel."
Bobbie Ann Mason

1608: Cabin boy Tom Savage is lucky to survive the voyage to Jamestown, then finds himself in more danger than ever as hostage to Pocahontas's father, Chief Powhatan.

"Any picture book collection would benefit from this tender story of the bonds between generations."
School Library Journal

"Wonderfully illustrated (by Daniel San Souci), the poignant story of two generations takes place on Grosse Ile, Michigan, where grandfather and grandson learn to understand and share their love for each other."
William & Mary Magazine