139 E 66th St, New York, NY 10065
Yale University, 38 Hillhouse Ave, New Haven, CT 06520
Trinity Church Cemetery and Mausoleum Manhattan, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Robert Chapman Bates (July 27, 1901 - December 1, 1942) was assistant professor of French at Yale University and a member of the faculty for 12 years. In his journals, Russell Wheeler Davenport writes of love for women, particularly his first fiancée, in an idealized way. Since love for women was so sacred, Davenport wrote, he “suppressed” his “animal desires” for them—which, he then rationalized, came out “highly unnaturally,” that is, through sex with men. In college, he had a sexual relationship with his classmate Bob Bates, later a professor of French literature at Yale. Bates seems to have wanted the relationship to continue, writing love sonnets to Davenport. He asked him at one point, after clearly being rebuffed, “Ah, Mitch—are you still seeking ‘experience’? Are you still looking for material for novels—are you still that same strange self of yours, forever just not happy?”
Robert Chapman Bates was born on 27 July 1901 in New York City, son of Colonel William Graves Bates (1860–1944) and Amy Rowan Scott Johnson (1866–1953). He descended from Elijah Bates (1770-1850) and Isaac Chapman Bates (1779-1846). The family lived at 139 East 66th Street, New York. He attended Choate School, Philips Andover Academy, and Yale College (B.A., 1923). After graduation he worked with the Guaranty Trust Company, New York City, from 1923 to 1925. He registered in the Yale Graduate School, Department of Romance Languages, in 1925 and received the Ph.D. in 1930. He was instructor in French from 1930 to 1937, assistant professor from 1937 to 1942, and fellow of Jonathan Edwards College from 1933 to 1942. He edited Le conte dou barril (1932) and L'hystore Job (1937), two medieval French poems. He made many gifts to literary collections of the Yale Library.
Bates died at forty-one on 1 December 1942 of chronic pulmonary insufficiency.
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