University of New England - Innovation for a Healthier Planet

Kate Barnes papers, 1960-2005, undated

Full finding aid (pdf)

Collection Scope and Content

The collection contains manuscripts, drawings, correspondence, and ephemera.

In addition to the processed material available to researchers, there is a large volume of unprocessed material that is restricted until the death of all of Kate Barnes’ children. That section of the collection consists of correspondence, photographs, diaries, manuscripts, informal writings, drawings, and much more.

Biographical/Historical Note

Kate Barnes was born on April 19, 1932, in Hingham, Massachusetts, to Henry Beston and Elizabeth Coatsworth. Six weeks later she came to Maine on the train, in a basket, wreathed with flowers, to spend the summer at the Bestons’ Chimney Farm, in Nobleboro. Growing up she spent her summers in Maine, and attended the Derby School in Hingham, Massachusetts. She graduated from the Emma Willard School in Troy, New York, and then from Scripps College, in Claremont, California.

In 1953 Kate married Richard G. Barnes, and their life in California was filled with children, horses, dogs and poetry. In 1955, at the age of 23, Kate had her first poem published in The New Yorker magazine. Her life in poetry blossomed, with poems published in many magazines and anthologies, and four books of poems published, two by the publisher David Godine. She was a well-loved reader and teacher, and after returning to Maine in the early 1980s, she was named Maine’s first official Poet Laureate. She was also a gifted artist, a serious scholar of literature, a maker of beautiful handmade books, and a serious student of song. Kate spent the last 30 years of her life living at her farm on Appleton Ridge, in Appleton, where she had a commercial blueberry operation with her friend Karl Guenzel. Kate Barnes died June 10, 2013, at Harbor Hill in Belfast.