Bateman was born in Edinburgh. She studied Celtic at Aberdeen University and completed a PhD in medieval Scottish Gaelic language religious poetry. She then went on to teach Scottish Gaelic at the universities of Edinburgh and Aberdeen. She lectures at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, on Skye, and is an Honorary Senior Lecturer at St Andrews University.
Her Scottish Gaelic poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies, including Other Tongues (1990) and Twenty of the Best (1990). She has also translated Gaelic poetry into English for An Anthology of Scottish Women Poets (1991) and The Harp's Cry (1993). Her 1997 collection Aotromachd agus dàin eile/Lightness and other poems - her first to have facing English translations - deals with the fragility of love and human relationships.
In 2011, Bateman's first ever published Scottish Gaelic short story, entitled Chanadh gun d'chur i às dha, appeared in the short story collection Saorsa published by CLÀR as part of the Ùr-sgeul series of new Scottish Gaelic fiction.
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