"Any lover of writing, books, poetry, the history of publishing in America, Victorian era America, western expansion, Civil War reformation, women’s rights, American history, Falmouth and shipping, the founding of Wellesley College and more, will find something in this book. This is historical non-fiction at its best."
Katharine Lee Bates carved herself a place in America’s cultural history by penning the majestic poem, first published in 1895, that later became the lyrics to the iconic anthem “America the Beautiful.” But as author Ponder (Hawthorne’s Early Narrative Art, 1991) convincingly shows in her similarly majestic account of Bates’ life, this poem was just one of many achievements of its creator—a woman who, through her work as a writer, teacher, and social activist, set an example of female independence in late-19th-century America. . . . . Ponder, a lucid writer, is particularly effective at showing how Bates’ tumultuous environment, as America transitioned from a largely rural to an industrial society, inspired her poetry and novels. She points out that the words to “America the Beautiful,” for example, percolated in Bates’ mind amid the depression of 1893 and a visit to see the glories of the Colorado Rockies. For Bates, the famous phrase “sea to shining sea” expressed the “ideal of brotherhood” that she believed would see America through the crisis. As Ponder writes, “Knowing what it was like to be marginalized and silenced, she wrote for those who had no voice, and she gave Americans a fresh and inspiring ideal of their country as an inclusive community.”
A biography that skillfully sets Bates’ work against the backdrop of the times in which she lived.
“How I loved this splendid biography! Melinda Ponder brings Katharine Lee Bates to life as never before. And what a fascinating, remarkable woman she was—so much more important in the history and literature of our country than I had realized.”
~Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize historian
“Finally, a full portrait of the wise and witty woman who wrote the words that best express our love for America. Melinda Ponder’s rich narrative is a timely reminder that intellect, integrity, and a rigorous respect for truth are the real pillars of patriotism.”
~Lynn Sherr, former ABC News correspondent and author of America the Beautiful: The Stirring True Story Behind America’s Favorite Song
“Katharine Lee Bates: From Sea to Shining Sea unfolds at long last the impressive life story and strikingly variegated career of the author of America’s unofficial national anthem. A limit-bumping thinker ahead of her time, sometimes even at odds with it, Katharine Lee Bates also had a remarkable gift for reaching the broader American public.”
~Lawrence Buell, Harvard University, author of New England Literary Culture and The Dream of the Great American Novel
“...[A] carefully researched and thoroughly entrancing life tale of a brilliant and accomplished woman whose many achievements have too long been eclipsed by the enduring success of America the Beautiful. ... Ponder wisely sets this triumph in the context of a full and richly lived life.”
~Megan Marshall, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Margaret Fuller: A New American Life and Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast
“Melinda Ponder’s ... beautifully written biography presents Katharine Lee Bates as, in her time, a “New Woman.” Readers will find that this life story of a beloved poet, patriot, and social reformer has much to say about our own time.”
~Barbara Kanellopoulos, The Falmouth Enterprise
“Congratulations to Melinda Ponder for telling the story of a poet who was also a true American hero.... is book is a stirring tribute to a brilliant and deeply patriotic American whose message we need to hear today.”
~Stephen Kinzer, historian and author, The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire
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