Bakeless, John, 1894-1978

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John Edwin Bakeless was born on December 30, 1894, in Carlisle, Pa. He married Katherine Little in 1920. Bakeless attended Williams College (1914-1918) and, though his final year was not completed because of enlistment in the army, received his bachelor's degree in absentia in 1918. At the end of World War I, he embarked on graduate studies at Harvard University where he studied Philosophy (M.A. 1920) and English (Ph. D. 1936). Author of a number of books and magazine articles, Bakeless also served as an editor, critic and lecturer following graduation from Harvard. He died on August 8, 1978, and his wife Katherine died on July 29, 1992.

From the description of Papers, 1914-1920. (Williams College). WorldCat record id: 39205564

John Edwin Bakeless (1894-1978) was an American author, historian, journalist, soldier, teacher, and amateur horticulturist.

His journalistic career included working for various magazines and newspapers. He also taught journalism and literary criticism at New York University and other institutions. His military career covered the years from 1917 to 1953; he served as an intelligence officer in World War II. As an historian and author he is best known for biographies of Christopher Marlowe, Lewis and Clark, Daniel Boone, and George Rogers Clark, and historical studies on early America, economic causes of war, and military intelligence.

From the description of John Edwin Bakeless papers, 1913-1977. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122598149

John Bakeless: author; graduate of Williams College; received M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard; author and contributor to magazines; served as a military intelligence officer in the U.S. Army.

Katherine Bakeless: author, teacher, pianist; collaborated with her husband on books. She also wrote two books for young readers on her own.

From the description of John and Katherine Bakeless papers, 1940-1962 (inclusive). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702165980

John Edwin Bakeless (1894-1978) author, historian, journalist, soldier and teacher, was born at Carlisle Barracks, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the son of Oscar Hugh Bakeless and Sara (Harvey) Bakeless. His father was head of academic instruction at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School and later (1902-1928) professor of pedagogy at Bloomsburg (Pa.) State Normal School. Owing to his father's position at the Carlisle Indian School Bakeless's childhood companions, as well as his nurses and physicians, were almost entirely native American Indians (a circumstance which may account for the lifelike descriptions of Indians, noted by his editors, in his historical writings).

After graduating (1913) from Bloomsburg State Normal School Bakeless took a baccalaureate in philosophy (1918) at Williams College, and at Harvard, a master's in philosophy (1920) and a doctorate in English philology (1936). His academic career was exceptionally brilliant. At Williams he won numerous prizes (for Greek, public speaking, etc.,) as well as the David A. Wells Graduate Prize for his essay The Economic Causes of Modern War (Moffat, Yard, 1921), his first book. At Harvard, where he also won many honors, he obtained the added distinction of being the only student since Emerson to have won the Bowdoin Prize in successive years (1922-1923), first in the humanities, for an essay on Marlowe's Tamburlane, and subsequently in science, for an essay on the migration of insects.

Although by 1926 he had completed the course work for his doctorate, he delayed the completion of his dissertation ("Christopher Marlowe, A Biographical and Critical Study") until he had produced what he regarded as a publishable manuscript. Two books, in fact, each acknowledged classics, ultimately resulted from it: Christopher Marlowe, The Man in His Time (Morrow, 1937); and The Tragical History of Christopher Marlowe (Harvard and Oxford, 1942). His Marlowe studies were aided by a Guggenheim Fellowship (1936-37) which permitted him to complete his research in England. (He received a second Guggenheim Fellowship in 1946 for his book on Lewis and Clark).

Bakeless's journalistic career began in 1911 when he was hired as a reporter (part time) for his hometown newspaper, the Bloomsburg Morning Press. During the next two years he acceded to the positions of full time reporter, night editor and feature writer, and he continued to write for the Press during his college vacations. This practical journalistic experience coupled with a brilliant academic record brought him to the attention of the editor of The Atlantic Monthly (Ellery Sedgwick) who in 1921 offered him the position of literary editor of The Living Age. Bakeless accepted, advancing to the position of managing editor (1923-25) and editor (1928-29). He was also for a time (1926-27) managing editor of The Forum, literary editor (1937-38) of the Literary Digest, and literary advisor (1925-26) to The Independent. Throughout his journalistic career he contributed numerous articles and book reviews to newspapers and magazines.

Although he was well prepared for a career in teaching and had been offered attractive professorships (at Harvard and M.I.T.) Bakeless was reluctant to embark upon it full-time. In later years he maintained that he had developed early in life an "abiding distrust of deans, chairmen, professors", resolving never to place his future entirely in their hands. Nevertheless, his love of teaching which he avowed was in the family blood (besides his parents, an aunt and two close cousins were also teachers) precluded his total disengagement from it. He also needed the income from teaching in order to supplement his earnings as an author.

From 1927 until 1940 Bakeless taught journalism and literary criticism (part time) at New York University where he was successively lecturer, instructor, assistant professor and from 1940 to 1947 associate professor of journalism. The latter title, however, was largely symbolic for he spent the war years on active military duty and upon his return he requested demotion to the rank of lecturer (a part time position) which allowed him to indulge his other love, historical writing and research. Bakeless also taught at Sarah Lawrence College (1931-36) and at Finch College (1948-52) and lectured at numerous colleges and universities including Dickinson College, Harvard, Yale, and the universities of Colorado and Michigan. In 1953 he retired from teaching to devote full time to his books.

Bakeless's military career began in 1917 while he was a student at Williams College. When war was declared he joined the R.O.T.C. and upon his graduation he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry and assigned as instructing officer at a training school for officers at Camp Lee, Virginia. After the war he joined the Officers Reserve Corps rising to the grade of Colonel on the General Staff. From November of 1940 until May of 1946 he was on active duty serving successively as assistant chief (later, chief) of the Balkan and Near East Section of the Military Intelligence Division in the War Department (1940-44); as assistant military attaché at Turkey (1944) and as Chief Intelligence Officer on the American Delegation of the Allied Control Commission in Bulgaria (1945). During a part of 1944 he was on a secret mission in Greece behind the German lines. In 1953 he was retired from the active reserves. During the post-war period he was also, as his papers reveal, a consultant to the Central Intelligence Agency.

Bakeless considered his training and experience in military intelligence (G-2) an excellent preparation for his extensive research on the role of military intelligence in American history. His indefatigable searches of libraries, archives, historical societies and private sources, resulted in the accumulation of much unique and previously unknown material.

By the outbreak of World War II. Bakeless's reputation as an historian and author had already been established. In addition to his remarkable studies of Christopher Marlowe and his prize- winning book on the economic causes of war he had also published The Origin of the Next War (Viking, 1926), Magazine Making (Viking, 1931), and Daniel Boone, Master of the Wilderness (Morrow, 1939).

In the post-war period much of his time was devoted to researching and writing his other biographical and historical works on early America (Lewis and Clark, Partners in Discovery (Morrow, 1947); Eyes of Discovery (Lippincott, 1950); Background to Glory, The Life of George Rogers Clark (Lippincott, 1957); and his books on military intelligence (Turncoats, Traitors and Heroes (Lippincott, 1959); and Spies of the Confederacy (Lippincott, 1970)). He also wrote three books jointly with his wife (They Saw America First (Lippincott, 1957), Spies of the American Revolution (Lippincott, 1962), and Signers of the Declaration (Houghton, Mifflin, 1962).

In June of 1920 Bakeless married Katherine Little (1895-92) of Bloomsburg (Pa.), a music teacher and later the author of several works on music and the lives of composers. Her father, who was descended from Mayflower stock, was an attorney and judge. In 1926 the Baklesses moved from Cambridge to New York taking up residence in an apartment in Greenwich Village. In 1940 Bakeless purchased an historic farmhouse on several acres of land at Great Hill, Seymour, Connecticut (near New Haven) which he named "Elbowroom Farm" (after Daniel Boone's remark that he needed "elbow room"). Here he spent the post-war years commuting to his teaching jobs in New York, researching and writing his books, and indulging his life long passion for horticulture.

From the guide to the John Edwin Bakeless papers, 1913-1977, (The New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division.)

John Bakeless: born December 30, 1894, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania; graduate of Williams College; received M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard; author and contributor to magazines; served as a military intelligence officer in the U.S. Army. Died August 8, 1978, in New Haven, Connecticut. Married Katherine Little on June 16, 1920.

Katherine Little Bakeless: born December 5, 1895, in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania; author, teacher, pianist; collaborated with her husband on books. She also wrote two books for young readers on her own. Died July 29, 1992, in Seymour, Connecticut.

From the guide to the John and Katherine Bakeless papers, 1865-1966, (Manuscripts and Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn American Scholar, Records, 1926-2006, (bulk 1944-2005) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Bakeless, John, 1894-1978. Letters received by John Bakeless [manuscript], 1956 January 14 and March 4. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Lewis Gannett papers, 1681-1966 (inclusive) 1900-1960 (bulk). Houghton Library.
referencedIn Helgesen, Henry J. Letter : to John Bakeless / by Henry J. Helgesen, 1956 Jan 14. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Bakeless, John Edwin, 1894-1978. John and Katherine Bakeless papers, 1940-1962 (inclusive). Yale University Library
creatorOf Bakeless, John, 1894-1978,. Photograph album, [1900-1910]. Princeton University Library
creatorOf John and Katherine Bakeless papers, 1865-1966 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
creatorOf John Edwin Bakeless papers, 1913-1977 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Colvin, W. E. Letters : to John Bakeless / by W. E. Colvin, 1956. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Mark Anthony De Wolfe Howe additional papers, 1880-1959. Houghton Library.
referencedIn John Mason Brown papers, 1922-1967. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Van Tyne, Claude Halstead, 1869-1930. Claude Halstead Van Tyne papers, 1885-1930. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf Bakeless, John, 1894-1978. John Edwin Bakeless papers, 1913-1977. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Papers, 1897-1930. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Bakeless, John, 1894-1978. Papers, 1914-1920. Williams College, Sawyer Library
creatorOf Bakeless, John, 1894-1978. Correspondence to Van Wyck Brooks, 1939-1956. University of Pennsylvania Library
creatorOf Bakeless, John Edwin, 1894-1978. Lewis & Clark, Partners in Discovery / by John Edwin Bakeless, ca. 1947. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Bakeless, John, 1894-1978. Typescripts collection, ca. 1930s- New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Drum, Philip Leo, 1871-. Correspondence, 1940-1955. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Thomas J. Dodd letters to John Bakeless, 1959-1970 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Correspondence, 1860-1979. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Charles Frederick Tucker Brooke papers, 1889-1943 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Brooke, Charles Frederick Tucker, 1883-1946. Charles Frederick Tucker Brooke papers, 1889-1943 (inclusive). Yale University Library
creatorOf Coxe, Maria M., d. 1953. Kit Marlow [manuscript] : a play in 3 acts and an epilogue, ca. 1940. Folger Shakespeare Library
referencedIn Bliven, Bruce, 1889-1977. Bruce Bliven papers, 1906-1985. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Claude Halstead Van Tyne papers, 1885-1930 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Oswald Garrison Villard papers, 1872-1949. Houghton Library.
referencedIn American Scholar records, 1926-2006 (bulk 1944-2005). Library of Congress
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith American Scholar corporateBody
associatedWith Bakeless family family
associatedWith Bakeless family. family
associatedWith Bakeless, Katherine Little. person
associatedWith Bakeless, Oscar H person
associatedWith Bakeless, Oscar H. person
associatedWith Berlin, Irving, 1888-1989. person
associatedWith Bliven, Bruce, 1889-1977. person
associatedWith Boone, Daniel, 1734-1820. person
associatedWith Boyd, Julian P. (Julian Parks), 1903-1980. person
correspondedWith Braithwaite, William Stanley, 1878-1962 person
associatedWith Brooke, Charles Frederick Tucker, 1883-1946. person
correspondedWith Brown, John Mason, 1900-1969 person
associatedWith Clark, George Rogers, 1752-1818. person
associatedWith Clark, William, 1770-1838. person
associatedWith Colvin, W. E., person
associatedWith Copland, Aaron, 1900-1990. person
associatedWith Coxe, Maria M., d. 1953. person
associatedWith Cranwell, John Philips, 1904- person
associatedWith Davis, W. C person
associatedWith Davis, William C. person
associatedWith Dodd, Thomas J. (Thomas Joseph), 1907-1971 person
associatedWith Drum, Philip Leo, 1871- person
associatedWith Eginton, Warren W person
associatedWith Eginton, Warren W. person
associatedWith Eller, Ernest McNeill, 1903-1992. person
associatedWith Ewers, John Caulfield person
associatedWith Ewers, John C. (John Canfield), 1909-1997. person
associatedWith Fowler, Robert H person
associatedWith Fowler, Robert H. person
correspondedWith Gannett, Lewis, 1891-1966 person
associatedWith Hanna, Archibald, 1916- person
associatedWith Hanna, Archibald, 1916-2010. person
associatedWith Harvard University corporateBody
associatedWith Harvey family family
associatedWith Harvey family. family
associatedWith Helgesen, Henry J. person
associatedWith Helgeson, Henry J., 1886-1966, person
correspondedWith Hocking, William Ernest, 1873-1966 person
correspondedWith Howe, M. A. De Wolfe (Mark Antony De Wolfe), 1864-1960 person
associatedWith Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804-1806) corporateBody
associatedWith Lewis, Meriwether, 1774-1809. person
associatedWith Marlowe, Christopher, 1564-1593. person
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associatedWith Missouri Pacific Railroad Company corporateBody
associatedWith Moffat, Fraser M person
associatedWith Moffat, Fraser M. person
associatedWith Nevins, Allan, 1890-1971. person
associatedWith Oberholtzer, Ernest C. (Ernest Carl), 1864-1977. person
associatedWith Oberholtzer, Ernest C. (Ernest Carl), 1884-1977 person
associatedWith Partridge, Bellamy, 1877-1960. person
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correspondedWith Villard, Oswald Garrison, 1872-1949 person
associatedWith Wiley, Bell Irvin, 1906- person
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associatedWith Williams College corporateBody
associatedWith Williams College. Class of 1918. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
West (U.S.)
United States
United States
Military intelligence
American Bison
Greek language--Study and teaching
Military training camps
Novelists, American--20th century
World War, 1914-1918
Authors, American
College students


Birth 1894-12-30

Death 1978-08-08






Ark ID: w6jq35vf

SNAC ID: 49397892