Walter Jackson Bate

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Walter Jackson Bate
Walter Jackson Bate.jpg
BornMay 23, 1918
Mankato, Minnesota
DiedJuly 26, 1999(1999-07-26) (aged 81)
Boston, Massachusetts
Alma materHarvard University
GenreLiterary criticism, biography
Notable awardsPulitzer Prize
National Book Award

Walter Jackson Bate (May 23, 1918 – July 26, 1999) was an American literary critic and biographer. He is known for Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography-winning biographies of Samuel Johnson (1978) and John Keats (1964).[1] Samuel Johnson also won the 1978 U.S. National Book Award in Biography.[2]

Bate was born in Mankato, Minnesota. He studied (under Douglas Bush) and later taught at Harvard University.

His critical work, especially The Burden of the Past and the English Poet, responds to and anticipates some aspects of the work of Harold Bloom. His biographies of Keats and Johnson have enjoyed extraordinary reputations both as scholarly resources and as works of literature in their own right. Jane Kenyon, one of many writers to be influenced by the Keats biography, paraphrases it in her poem "Reading Late of the Death of Keats":

Clearly I had packed the wrong book
in my haste: Keats died, propped up
to get more air. Severn
straightened the body on the bed,
and cut three dampened curls
from Keats's head.

He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1957.[3] Bate retired from teaching at Harvard in 1986, and died on July 26, 1999, at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, aged 81.[4] A brief memoir appeared in 2013.[5]

Major works[edit]

  • Negative Capability: The Intuitive Approach in Keats (1939; reprinted 1976, 2012).
  • From Classic to Romantic: Premises of Taste in Eighteenth-century England (1946).
  • Criticism: The Major Texts edited by (1952).
  • The Achievement of Samuel Johnson (1955).
  • The Stylistic Development of Keats (1958).
  • Prefaces to Criticism (1959).
  • From Classic to Romantic: Premises of Taste in Eighteenth-century England (1961).
  • John Keats (1963).
  • Keats: A Collection of Critical Essays (1964).
  • Coleridge (1968).
  • The Burden of the Past and the English Poet (1970).
  • Samuel Johnson (1977).


  1. ^ "Biography or Autobiography". Past winners and finalists by category. The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  2. ^ "National Book Awards – 1978". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  3. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
  4. ^ "Walter J. Bate, 81, Professor and Biographer". The New York Times. July 28, 1999.
  5. ^ Robert D. Richardson, Splendor of Heart: Walter Jackson Bate and the Teaching of Literature; with an interview by John Paul Russo (Boston: Godine, 2014).

External links[edit]