Philip Arnold Stuart was the son of Martinus Stuart (1841-1881), a magistrate of the Ixopo district, and his wife Mary Porter Stuart, nee Taylor (1846-1918), who were married in Pietermartizburg on 24 October 1866. They had eight children, three of whom died young. The five surviving children included four sons and one daughter.
Little is known of Philip's youth, but some details can be gleaned from the life of his oldest brother, James Stuart (1868-1942), who became a civil servant in the Colony of Natal, and who studied the Zulu language and collected Zulu oral traditions. James Stuart published a History of the Zulu Rebellion (1906), and, in the 1920s, five school readers in Zulu. (His extensive collection of materials have been preserved, and a series of books from The James Stuart Archive of Recorded Oral Evidence Relating to the History of the Zulu and Neighbouring Peoples began appearing in 1976.) Martinus Stuart was killed in July 1881 in the Battle of Ingogo of the Anglo-Transvaal war, after which their mother took James and two of his brothers (presumably including Philip, the youngest) to England, where they were educated. James returned to Natal in 1886, when he was eighteen. Philip presumably returned in the 1890s, for he married May Alice Runciman (1876-1958) in Pietermaritzburg on 4 September 1901. They had eight children, four sons (one of whom died young) and four daughters.
|The 1938 second edition|
Philip shared with his brother James a considerable interest in the Zulu language and history. His book on the Zulu language first appeared as Stuart's Zulu Course (1907; second edition 1912), and was retitled for its third edition as A Zulu Grammar for Beginners (1932; fourth edition 1940).
All of his books appeared as by P.A. Stuart. His one work of historical fiction was An African Attila: Tales of the Zulu Reign of Terror (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1927). It contains nine stories primarily centered on the Zulu ruler Shaka (1787-1828), spelt by Stuart as "Tshaka," who was sometimes called the "Black Napoleon" or an "African Attila," for in twelve years he conquered an area in southern Africa larger than western Europe, unifying many tribes and thus temporarily resisting European domination. A second edition of An African Attila, with illustrations, was published in Pietermartizburg in 1938. An African Attila was translated into Zulu as Unkosibomvu (1938, reprinted 1963, 1964 and 1978). One of the stories from the book was made into a play in Xhosa (a Bantu language related to Zulu), and performed at the Freemantle School in Lady Frere in the early 1940s.
P.A. Stuart worked as a civil servant in Pietermaritzburg. At the time of his death he was a resident of Durban, though he died in a suburb of Cape Town.