Stewart, Martha, 1941–, American entrepeneur and tastemaker, b. Jersey City, N.J., as Martha Helen Kostyra, grad. Barnard College (1963). Moving to Westport, Conn., she started (1976) a successful catering business. Her best-selling first book, Entertaining (1982, with E. Hawes), has been followed by some 40 other stylish how-to volumes, and in 1990 she launched Martha Stewart Living magazine, which was followed by other specialty publications. She also entered syndication with a popular newspaper column and a television show (1993), becoming an ubiquitous popular instructor in matters of style, cooking, home decor, gardening, and other aspects of the good life. Stewart also put her imprint on a wide-ranging line of tastefully designed household merchandise. Her publicly traded Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc., made her one of America's wealthiest women, but her success was marred by her conviction (2004) for conspiracy and obstruction relating to insider trading. Forced to resign from MSLO, she served several months in prison and under house arrest, but resumed her media career after her release.
See biography by L. Allen (2006); C. M. Byron, Martha Inc. (2002); B. Adler, ed., The World According to Martha (2006).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.