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    Katharine Lee Bates Autograph Lyrics to "America the Beautiful" Signed "Katharine Lee Bates." One page, 7.25" x 10.5", n.p., n.d. [ca. 1920], containing all four stanzas of Bates' final version of her treasured song in ink entirely in her hand. Ms. Bates wrote the lyrics on the verso of her personal stationery reading "70 Curve Street/ Wellesley/ Massachusetts". She lived at that address only a few blocks from Wellesley College where she served as a professor of English literature. Since the song is on the verso of her personal stationery, this handwritten copy might have been informally accomplished for a personal friend.

    Ms. Bates was a noted scholar and a prolific author who published many volumes of scholarly works, travel books, and stories for children. But she is best remembered as the author of the words to this patriotic hymn. The first draft of "America the Beautiful" was sketched out in the summer of 1893, when Bates was teaching English at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. Several sights from her journey from Massachusetts to Colorado found a place in her poem: the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, which held a bright promise for the future within its brilliant alabaster buildings; the waving wheat fields of Kansas, through which her train traveled; and the imposing view of the Rockies and the Great Plains from atop Pikes Peak. On that peak, the substance of the poem was born, and she wrote a few stanzas in her notebook upon returning to her hotel room. When "America the Beautiful" was published two years later in The Congregationalist, it quickly caught the public's attention. Amended versions were published in 1904 and 1913.

    The original copy of the song is held by the Falmouth Historical Society. A search of auction records reveals that in the last thirty years, only two other handwritten examples with all four stanzas have come to market; one of those was sold by Heritage Auction Galleries in 2009 for $22,705. Incidentally, the only payment Miss Bates received for her efforts was a small check from the Congregationalist after "America the Beautiful" was first published. This rare handwritten and signed copy of America's "second national anthem" is on toned paper and in fine condition.

    The song is accompanied by a framed b/w photograph (5" x 7.25" sight) of Ms. Bates, in academic regalia, sitting beside her collie Hamlet. The scholar had a well-documented affection for her pets, which included a parrot named Polonius. She even authored works about her animals, such as a book published in 1919 about her previous collie, Sigurd (Sigurd: Our Golden Collie). Included here is an unpublished typed poem by Ms. Bates entitled "Hamlet's Invitation", which includes mention of Polonius. The poem's paper is toned and laid on the back of the frame.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2010
    8th-9th Tuesday-Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,991

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