Member's Choice: Katharine Lee Bates: From Sea to Shining Sea
Katharine Lee Bates's "America the Beautiful" resonates for many as the most patriotic and beloved American anthem. Poet, scholar, traveller, social activist, and Wellesley College professor, Katharine Lee Bates had published an early version of "America the Beautiful" in Boston's The Congregationalist in 1895 after her summer in Colorado below the "purple mountain majesties." But it was her next years, “dashing into slippery Boston” and researching at the Boston Athenaeum that empowered her to re-write her poem with a new theme of "brotherhood/ From sea to shining sea.” In Boston she also transformed the field of American Literature and mentored such younger poets as Robert Frost.
Drawing on extensive research in Bates family diaries, letters, and memoirs, biographer Melinda M. Ponder brings Katharine (1859-1929) to vivid life on her journeys from Falmouth, Massachusetts, 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. Teacher, poet, community builder and patriot, she challenged Americans to make their country the best it could become in its values and literature. 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.”
Melinda Ponder received a M.A. in American Studies and a Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Boston College. She has published numerous articles and given many talks and interviews on Katharine Lee Bates, and published two books on Nathaniel Hawthorne. Melinda is Professor Emerita of English at Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill.
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