Karle Wilson Baker was the best-known Texas poet of the early twentieth century. Yet, while many of her male contemporaries remain well known to Texas literature, she is not. Her energy and significant role in shaping the literature of Texas equaled those of Walter Prescott Webb or J. Frank Dobie, with whom she ranked as the first Fellows of the Texas Institute of Letters.
Her modern lifestyle as an independent, “new” woman and her active career as a writer, teacher, and lecturer placed her among the avant-garde of women in the nation, although she lived in the small town of Nacogdoches. She was a multi-talented writer with a wide range of interests, yet she championed Texas and the history and natural beauty of East Texas above all else.
Sarah R. Jackson’s thoroughly researched biography of Karle Wilson Baker introduces her to a new generation. Baker’s life also opens a window onto the literary times in which she lived and particularly the path of a woman making her way in the largely male-dominated world of nationally acclaimed writers.
Beyond the literary insights this book offers, Jackson spotlights developments in East Texas such as the discovery of oil and the founding of what would become Stephen F. Austin State University in Baker’s hometown. Extensive work in a number of regional and state archives and interviews with many who remembered Baker allow Jackson to offer an account that is not only thorough but also lively and entertaining.