Partner Ida Jane Ash, buried together
2533 Greenbriar Ln, Costa Mesa, CA 92626, Stati Uniti
Oakland Cemetery, 248 Oakland Ave SE, Atlanta, GA 30312, Stati Uniti
Orelia Key Bell (April 8, 1864 – June 2, 1959) was an American poet, author of the Christian Science "Millennium Hymn" (1893) and "Poems" (1895). She lived for more than 50 years with her companion, Ida Jane Ash, first in Atlanta and then California, and they are buried alongside each other in the Historical Atlanta Oakwood Cemetery.
Orelia Key Bell was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 8, 1864, to Colonel Marcus Aurelius Bell (1828–1885) and Mary Jane Hulsey (1837–1901), in the Bell mansion, a stately Southern home in the heart of the city built in 1860. The house became historic soon after Bell's birth, as the headquarters of General William Tecumseh Sherman's engineering corps led by Captain Orlando M. Poe, and the room in which she was born and spent the first three months of her life was that used by General Sherman as a stable for his favorite colt. The house was made of "plaster-covered stone marbleized in shades of blue, yellow, and red" and thus nicknamed the "Calico House". The house was demolished in 1925.
Both sides of Bell's family were from the gentry, and she was very thoroughly educated. Even when her family lost their financial security she managed to support herself and reach the fame through her poetry.
Her warmest recognition from the press came from Richard Watson Gilder of The Century Magazine, Page M. Baker of the New Orleans Times-Democrat, Charles Anderson Dana of the New York Sun, Miriam Leslie, Henry W. Grady, and Thaddeus E. Horton, and her own home paper, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Her poem "Maid and Matron" was used by Hortense Rhéa during her performances. Bell was friends with Sue Harper, wife of Livingston Mims; Harper was the leader of the Christian Science movement in the South and founder of the first Church of Christ (Scientist) in Georgia; to her Bell owed the inspiration of her most enduring work, the International Series of Christian Science Hymns. "Millennium Hymn", published in February 1893 in the Christian Science Journal, is one of them.
In 1942 she collaborated with British poet Alfred Noyes to publish a "patriotic leaflet". Her poem, "The Tocsin Sounds" is "dedicated to President Franklin D. Roosevelt as Commander in Chief".
Later in life, she "developed the art of transcribing her poems in gold leaf in china plate". Several works are exhibited at the Atlanta Historical Society, among other venues. She was awarded a bronze medal at the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta.
She was an early active member of Pasadena's Browning Society, a poetry appreciation group.
In 1895 Bell published Poems of Orelia Key Bell, and the volume is dedicated, among others, to "Ida Ash, whose affection and encouragement have been among the chief sources of my inspiration".
One poem, "Ida Ash", is under the section "The Heavenly Muse", and Ash is also named in the poem "At Mount Enota's Laurel'd Base" under the section "Melodies in Minor Key":
On October 12, 1895, at the closing session of the Professional Work of Women National Council's Work, a selection of poems by Bell were recited by Ash and by her pupils, Lucille Atkinson and Mamie Tolbert. A newspaper noted that Bell's "popularity in the literary world was evident from the representative number of literary people present who heard with deep appreciation the delicate expressions of her poetic mind".
Orelia Key Bell never married and she lived with Ida Jane Ash (April 9, 1874 – August 3, 1948). Orelia Key Bell and Ida Ash, by the newspapers tagged as lifelong friend and amanuensis, moved to Pasadena prior to World War I and later lived at 2533 Greenbriar Lane, Costa Mesa, California.
Orelia Key Bell died on June 2, 1959, and is buried at Oakland Cemetery (Atlanta) in the Bell family plot alongside Ida Jane Ash.