Katherine Lee Bates

Katherine Lee Bates

Katherine Lee Bates: Author of America the Beautiful

Born in Falmouth, MA on August 12, 1859 she is best known for writing the works for America the Beautiful and for popularizing Mrs. Santa Claus.  She was raised by a pastor father and his wife she would graduate high school and go on to get a B.A. degree from Wellesley College in 1880.

Katharine Coman

She would eventually teach at Wesley College while she published writing such as poems, children’s books, and travel book. Katherine wrote her first draft of America the Beautiful in 1883. The poem would first be printed in a newspaper in 1895 and several additional times 1904, 1912 in a collection of works by her and in another newspaper in 1913. The poem America the Beautiful is most noticeable known for being sung along with Samuel A. Ward’s 1882 hymn Materna.  Bates is also know for popularizing Mrs. Santa Claus with her poem Goody Santa Claus on a Sleigh Ride in 1889.

The home of Katharine Lee Bates in Falmouth, MA.

Katherine lived with Katharine Coman for 25 years at Wellesly without marrying a man.  They lived together until Coman’s death in 1915.  This “co-habitation” has led some people believe the nature of the two ladies relation was that of a lesbian relationship.  Surviving letter would indicate an impassioned love, dedication, and commitment to each other but as with the era of the time, there is no direct proof indicating a lesbian relationship.

Another notable fact about Ms. Bates is, she popularized Mrs. Clause (as in Santa’s wife) in her 1889 poem Goody Santa Claus on a Sleigh Ride.


Some have said the relationship could be classified more of a “Boston-Marriage”.






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