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Agnes Lee (March 24, 1862 – July 23, 1939) was an American poet and translator. The editors of Poetry, Harriet Monroe and Alice Corbin Henderson included in their 1917 selection for The New Poetry: An Anthology poems by Agnes Lee. According to Adrienne Munich and Melissa Bradshaw, authors of Amy Lowell, American Modern, what connects these poets is their appartenance to the queer sisterhood.
Agnes Lee was born Martha Agnes Rand in Chicago and used various pen names throughout her writing career. The second daughter of William H. Rand, of map publishers Rand, McNally & Co, she was educated in Vevey, Switzerland. In 1890, she married Francis Watts Lee, settling with him in Boston. In 1911, she married Otto T. Freer, a Chicago surgeon son of one of the first presidents of Rush Medical College.
In her accessible, formally shaped poems, Lee often explored the natural world. In 1890, a reviewer for The Atlantic described the poems in The Legend of a Thought as “pleasing, unpretentious verses.” In addition to her debut collection, The Legend of a Thought (1889, published under the name Martha Agnes Rand), her books of poetry include The Border of the Lake (1910), The Sharing (1914), Faces and Open Doors (1922), and New Lyrics and a Few Old Ones (1931). She is the author of a collection of children’s verse, The Round Rabbit (1898), and translated Théophile Gautier’s Enamels and Cameos and Other Poems (1903).
Lee published frequently in Poetry magazine and in 1926 won the magazine’s Guarantors’ Prize, which had previously been won by Robert Frost and Edna St. Vincent Millay. Lee spent her later years in Chicago and died at home of pneumonia. She is buried in Chicago’s Graceland Cemetery. A selection of letters to her from Edgar Lee Masters, an admirer, is archived in the Newberry Library in Chicago.
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