Karle Wilson Baker

Karle Wilson Baker (1878-1960). Photo by Sarah R. Jackson. Courtesy Wikipedia.

Karle Wilson Baker
Born October 13, 1878
Little Rock, Arkansas
Died November 8, 1960
Nacogdoches, Texas
Pen name Charlotte Wilson
Occupation teacher, poet, prose writer
Nationality United States American
Period 20th century

Karle Wilson Baker (October 13, 1878 - November 8, 1960) was an American poet, prose author, and academic.


Baker was born Karl Wilson in Little Rock, Arkansas, to Kate Florence (Montgomery) and William Thomas Murphey Wilson. In 1893, she decided to add a final "e" to her 1st name to avoid gender confusions. Yet, despite this change, her name continued to be mistaken as a man's by fans and reviewers of her writings.[1]

Educated at the University of Chicago, she studied under poet William Vaughn Moody and novelist Robert Herrick.[1]

Under the pseudonym of "Charlotte Wilson," she was co-author of Women and Prisons (1912), published in London by the Fabian Society. She contributed fiction and poetry to Harper's, Atlantic Monthly, Yale Review, The Century, etc., and was the author of Blue Smoke, a collection of poetry (1919), The Garden of the Plynck (1920), The Burning Bush (1922), and Old Coins (1923).

Nacogdoches, TexasEdit

In 1900, Baker 1st visited Nacogdoches, Texas to see her parents. In 1906, she permanently moved from Little Rock, where she had been teaching school, to Nacogdoches. There, she fell in love with the beauty of the surrounding nature, which she would later describe in her book, The Birds of Tanglewood.

At Nacogdoches, she also met her future husband, Thomas Ellis Baker, and the couple married in 1907.[2] Together they had 2 children: Thomas Wilson Baker (born 1908), who later became a banker; and Charlotte Baker Montgomery (born 1910), who later wrote and illustrated many of her own children's books, as well as 2 adult novels.[3]

Continuing careerEdit

Karle Wilson Baker

Karle Wilson Baker

From 1924 to 1934, Baker was a teacher in Nacogdoches, teaching contemporary poetry at Stephen F. Austin State University (SFASU). When her poem titled "The Pine Tree Hymn" was written, it also became adopted as the school song for SFASU. During this time, she was also able to publish 2 children's readers, Texas Flag Primer (1926) and Two Little Texans (1932), one of which became a state textbook for school children from 1926 to 1929.[3]

She also published 4 more books: The Birds of Tanglewood describing the birds within Nacogdoches, Dreamers on Horseback (her collected poems), Family Style (1937), a novel recounting the occurrence of the East Texan oil boom, and Star of the Wilderness (1942), which became a Book-of-the-Month Club selection.[3]

In addition to teaching at SFASU, Baker also gave lectures at various colleges, women's clubs, and literary groups in Texas. Later in her life, she also attended University of Chicago, Columbia University, and University of California, Berkeley.[4]

She died on November 8, 1960, aged 82.


Karle Wilson Baker statue

Karle Wilson Baker statue, Nacogdoches, Texas. Courtesy Humanities Texas.

Baker received the most recognition and honors of any female poet in Texas during the 20th century.[5]

A charter member of the Institute of Letters, the Poetry Society of Texas, and the Philosophical Society of Texas, she was also the 3rd person and 1st female to be named a Fellow of the Texas Institute of Letters.[6]

She was awarded with an honorary Litt.D. by Southern Methodist University in 1924, and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for her last collection of poetry, Dreamers on Horseback, in 1931.

A statue of Baker by sculptor Brian Keith was dedicated in April 2013 in Nacogdoches, on the lawn of Sigma Tau Gamma on Mound St. (the property where Baker's home was located).[7]

Texas Woman of Letters Edit

Texas Woman of Letters: Karle Wilson Baker (2005), by Sarah Ragland Jackson, describes Baker's life as a remarkable Texas poet of the 20th century, whose important contributions to Texas literature have been overshadowed by her male contemporaries. The book provides thorough well-researched details on Baker's life, and gives readers more of an insight to her challenge in making her way into the mainly male-dominated literary world of that time.[8]


Bluesmokebookofv00bake 0001



  • Family Style. New York: Coward-McCann, 1937.
  • Star of the Wilderness: A novel. New York: Coward-McCann, 1942.

Short fictionEdit

  • Old Coins. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1923.
  • The Seeker. Madison, NJ: Golden Hind Press, 1927.
  • The Reindeer's Shoe, and other stories. Austin, TX: E.C. Temple / Nacogdoches, TX: Stephen F. Austin State University, 1988.


  • Women and Prisons (as "Charlotte M. Wilson", with Helen Blagg). London: Fabian Society, 1912.
  • The Birds of Tanglewood. Dallas, TX: Southwest Press, 1930;
    • (illustrated by Charlotte Baker Montgomery, with introduction by Sarah Ragland Jackson). College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 2006.


  • The Garden of the Plynck (illustrated by Florence Minard). New Haven, CT, & New York: Yale University Press, 1920.
  • Texas Flag Primer (illustrated by Rodney M. Thomson). Yonkers-on-Hudson, NY: World, 1925.
    • Texas Flag Primer Coloring Book (adapted by Carl McQueary). Austin TX: Me for Ma, 2001.
  • Two Little Texans (illustrated by Rodney M. Thomson). Yonkers-on-Hudson, NY: World, 1931.
Blue Smoke (Karle Wilson Baker Poem)

Blue Smoke (Karle Wilson Baker Poem)

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[9]

See alsoEdit




External links Edit

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