My biography of Katharine Lee Bates (1859-1929), the trail-blazing woman who wrote "America the Beautiful," compellingly portrays the story of her public triumphs as an activist poet as well as her personal heartaches as a single woman who had to choose between marriage and a career.
Katharine Lee Bates’ “America the Beautiful” resonates for many people as the most patriotic and beloved American anthem. Her words speak of the beauty and love of our land, our people, and our country— a nation full of hope and possibility. That has never been more important than today.
In Katharine Lee Bates: From Sea to Shining Sea, I delve into the remarkable life of the woman behind this nationally treasured poem. Teacher, poet, community builder and patriot, Katharine Lee Bates challenged Americans to make their country the best it could become in its values and literature.
Drawing on extensive research in Bates family diaries, letters, and memoirs, I bring Katharine to vivid life in her journeys from her childhood in Falmouth, Massachusetts during the mid-1800s, where she felt she had been “rock’d in a clamshell,” to Wellesley College, Boston, Oxford, Spain and Egypt.
Although her passion was poetry, Katharine’s three alluring suitors (two men and a woman) pulled her into major reform movements in a changing America. She was a dynamic woman with public triumphs, an antiwar activist poet during America’s tumultuous growth into a world power, who suffered personal heartaches as a single woman faced with choosing between marriage and a career.
She refused to let an impoverished childhood in a Cape Cod village or the closed doors of male- only bastions—the ministry, graduate schools, or the Yankee literary establishment—prevent her from creating an inspiring life. This book is for those who love “America the Beautiful” and those who root for the unlikely triumph of a complicated woman “from sea to shining sea.”
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