Faith Yingling Knoop (1896–1984)
Faith Yingling Knoop was a prolific author who wrote children’s books, short stories, a popular Arkansas history textbook, and more than 250 articles for seventy-five different publications. Among other accolades, she won first prize in the 1948 National League of American Pen Women’s Contest.
Faith Yingling was born on December 6, 1896, in Elgin, Illinois, the daughter of Irvin Dean Yingling, a watchmaker and optometrist, and Maud (Waddles) Yingling. She had an older brother. Childhood for Yingling was filled with summer trips to visit her grandparents in Illinois and Washington DC. They were avid sightseers and acquainted her with parks, museums, and other landmarks of New York, Chicago, and Washington. Her mother took her to New York to her first stage play when she was six. The early sightseeing adventures grew into extensive world travel. In high school, she wrote stories for her school newspaper, the Spectator. She was valedictorian of her class.
Yingling attended Trenton Normal School (later Trenton State College and now the College of New Jersey); won a short story contest for the school periodical, the Signal; and earned a kindergarten/primary teaching degree in 1915. She completed additional study at the University of Pennsylvania, Hiram and Thiel colleges, and Vassar Summer Institute.
Yingling taught elementary school in New Jersey and Illinois after college, eventually moving to Youngstown, Ohio, where she met a young civil engineer, Werner Caldwell Knoop. They were married on September 4, 1926, and moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1929; they had one daughter, Athalia. Her husband was active in civic affairs in Little Rock and, in 1957, became the first mayor under the city manager form of government.
Knoop engaged in substitute teaching, during which she found a need for a new history textbook. In 1935, she wrote Arkansas: Yesterday and Today, which was used in Arkansas schools for almost twenty-five years. Her second book, Quest of the Cavaliers—De Soto and the Spanish Explorers, was published in 1940. It was favorably reviewed by Library Journal: “The facts are not dryly told and the whole book is interesting reading, considered either history or biography.” It was highly recommended by the Saturday Review of Literature.
Knoop considered her writing a hobby, not a career. Her writing slowed when her daughter was born but resumed when Athalia began school. Her first drafts were written in pencil on unlined, yellow second sheets, and completed manuscripts were personally typed. Her books were biographies, with first-hand background from her travels. Zebulon Pike (1950), illustrated by Armstrong Sperry, was reviewed in the Arkansas Gazette and in the New Yorker. A historical fiction novel, Kuni of the Cherokees (1957), followed. She wrote four biographies in the “World Explorers” series for Garrard Publishing Company: Amerigo Vespucci (1966), Francisco Coronado (1967), Vasco Nunez de Balboa (1969), and Sir Edmund Hillary (1970). She did extensive research in the Little Rock and Chicago public libraries. She wrote only one book of historical fiction, Lars and the Luck Stone (1950), which was her favorite publication. It received good reviews in Booklist, Horn Book, Library Journal, Saturday Review of Literature, Wilson Library Bulletin, and others, besides being recommended in Children’s Catalog.
Knoop wrote short stories and articles for juvenile publications such as Highlights for Children, American Girl, Wee Wisdom, and American Red Cross. “Red Riding Hood Armed” won a $100 prize in a short story contest offered by Southwestern Writers, Inc., in 1944. She also wrote articles for adult periodicals including American Home, Ladies’ Home Journal, and U.S. Lady. Publishers of anthologies and school readers (American Book Company, Ginn and Company, Henry Holt and Company, and Lippincott) picked up many of her stories. Two were reproduced in Braille for the blind and one for a shorthand textbook.
In recognition of Knoop’s acclaim as an author and for her work in cultural organizations, she was the unanimous choice to be the recipient of the Alumni of the Year Award from Trenton State College in 1955.
Knoop died on November 15, 1984, and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Little Rock. In 1989, the City of Little Rock dedicated a neighborhood park overlooking the Arkansas River in honor of Werner and Faith Knoop’s contributions to the city, naming it Knoop Park.
For additional information:
Faith Yingling Knoop Collection. Dean B. Ellis Library. Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, Arkansas.
Kay, Ernest, ed. The International Authors and Writers Who’s Who. 7th ed. Cambridge, England: Melrose Press, 1976.
Rogers, Sue Fuller. “Faith Yingling Knoop: Arkansas Author.” MLS thesis, University of Mississippi, 1971.
Who’s Who of American Women: And Women of Canada. 4th ed. Chicago: The A. N. Marquis Company, 1976.
Water Valley, Mississippi
Last Updated: 04/06/2009