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Karle Wilson Baker (1878-1960)

"Let Me Grow Lovely" Let me grow lovely, growing old-- So many fine things do: Laces, and ivory, and gold, And silks need not be new; And there is healing in old trees, Old streets a glamour hold; Why may not I, as well as these, Grow lovely, growing old? -Karle Wilson Baker [1]

In 1878, Karle Wilson Baker was born to William Thomas Murphey and Kate Florence (Montgomery) Wilson in Little Rock, Arkansas. She attended the University of Chicago, Columbia University, and the University of California at Berkeley. Still, the only degree that she received was an honorary doctorate of letters conferred by Southern Methodist University. She moved to Nacogdoches, Texas, in 1901, to join her family, where she went on to teach at Stephen F. Austin State Teachers College (1925-1934). Baker had a passion for writing and authored personal and historical essays, novels, nature poetry, and short stories. Under the pen name of Charlotte Wilson, her early works appeared in journals such as Atlantic Monthly, Century, Harper's, Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, Scribner's, Putnam's, and the Yale Review. [2]

Karle Wilson Baker loved to write about the beauty of East Texas and is the author of “The Pine Tree Hymn,” which became Stephen F. Austin State University’s first school song. She is the most honored 20th-century poet in Texas, became the first female named a Fellow of the Texas Institute of Letters, and her collection of poetry, Dreamers on Horseback, was nominated for the 1931 Pulitzer Prize. [3]

The Karle Wilson Baker statue is on the lawn of the Sigma Tau Gamma house, which was her former home (711 N Mound St.), and the dedication was on April 10, 2013. Friends of Historic Nacogdoches, Inc. sponsored the bronze statue sculpted by Brian Keith. [3]

Images

Karle Wilson Baker
(1878-1960)
Did you know that her first name was originally spelled Karl, and the E was added on later?
Karle Wilson Baker
(1878-1960)
From 1938 to 1939, Karle Wilson Baker served as the President of the Texas Institue of Letters, and she was their first woman fellow.
Karle Wilson Baker
(1878-1960)
Karle Wilson Baker also wrote two novels, Family Style and Star of the Wilderness.
Karle Wilson Baker
(1878-1960)
Karle Wilson Baker first visited Nacogdoches to see her family. She returned two years later to stay. She fell in love with the beauty of East Texas, which became the inspiration for her poetry.

Location

Metadata

Emily Smith, “Karle Wilson Baker (1878-1960),” East Texas History, accessed September 30, 2022, https://easttexashistory.org/items/show/306.