Katharine Lee Bates Facts:
Known for: writing "America the Beautiful" lyrics; scholarly works of literary criticism; pioneer faculty member helping build the reputation of Wellesley College and thereby of women's higher education
Dates: August 12, 1859 - March 28, 1929
Occupation: poet, scholar, educator, writer
Katharine Lee Bates Biography:
Probably best known as the author of the words to "America the Beautiful," Katharine Lee Bates was a prolific poet and a professor of English and head of the English department at Wellesley, where she had been a student in its earliest years.
Her father, a Congregational minister, died when Katharine was less than a month old. Her brothers had to go to work to help support the family, but Katharine was given an education. She received her B.A. from Wellesley College in 1880. She wrote to supplement her income. "Sleep" was published by The Atlantic Monthly during her undergraduate years at Wellesley.
Bates' teaching career was the central interest of her adult life. She believed that through literature, human values could be revealed and developed.
A trip to Colorado in 1893 and the view from Pikes Peak inspired Katharine Lee Bates to write the poem, "America the Beautiful," which was published in The Congregationalist two years after she wrote it. The Boston Evening Transcript published a revised version in 1904, and the public adopted the idealistic poem quickly.
Katharine Lee Bates helped found the New England Poetry Club in 1915 and served for a time as its president, and she was involved in a few social reform activities, working for labor reform and planning the College Settlements Association with Vida Scudder. She was raised in the Congregational faith of her ancestors; as an adult, she was deeply religious but could not find a church in whose faith she could be certain.
Katharine Lee Bates lived for twenty-five years with Katharine Coman in a committed partnership that has sometimes been described as a "romantic friendship." Bates wrote, after Coman died, "So much of me died with Katharine Coman that I'm sometimes not quite sure whether I'm alive or not."
- Mother: Cornelia Frances Lee, teacher, a graduate of Mount Holyoke Seminary (later known as Mount Holyoke College)
- Father: William Bates, Congregational minister, studied at Middlebury College, Vermont, and Andover Theological Seminary, Massachusetts
- Katharine Lee Bates was the youngest daughter
- companion: Katharine Coman (professor at Wellesley, died 1915)
- children: none
- Wellesley College, A.B. 1880
- Oxford 1889-90
- Wellesley, A.M. 1891
Organizational Affiliations: Wellesley College
Religious Associations: Congregational
Katherine Lee Bates: on this site
Also on this site
Katharine Lee Bates: Life
- Katharine Lee Bates - includes information on her "romantic friendship" with Katharine Coman
Katharine Lee Bates: Writings
- Retinue and Other Poems (1918)
- America the Beautiful - with music and including a bit of the music's history (plays sound on loading the page)
- Poetry of Katharine Lee Bates
- The Funeral of Phillips Brooks. The New England Magazine, vol. 14, issue 4 (June 1893).
- Logic. The New England Magazine, vol. 17, issue 3 (November 1894).
- Festivals at American Colleges for Women. At Wellesley. The Century, vol. 49, issue 3 (Jan 1895).
- A Private. The New England Magazine, new series, vol. 20, issue 5 (July 1899).
- Sherr, Lynn. America the Beautiful: The Stirring True Story Behind Our Nation's Favorite Song. 2001. ()
- Sunshine and Other Verses for Children - 1890
- America the Beautiful and Other Poems - 1911
- Retinue and Other Poems - 1918
- Burgess, D. W. B. - 1952 biography
- Younger, Barbara. Purple Mountain Majesties: The Story of Katharine Lee Bates and 'America the Beautiful.' Illustrated by Stacey Shuett. Grades 3-5. ()
- America the Beautiful. Illustrated by Neil Waldman. Ages 4-8. ()
- America the Beautiful. Illustrated by Wendell Minor. ()
- America the Beautiful Illustrated by Gall. Grades 1-7. ()