Coates, Florence Nicholson (1850–1927)

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Coates, Florence Nicholson (1850–1927)

American poet. Born Florence Van Leer Earle on July 1, 1850, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; died on April 6, 1927, in Philadelphia; married William Nicholson, in 1872 (died); married Edward H. Coates (a Philadelphia financier), in January 1879.

Selected works:

Poems (1898); Mine and Thine (1904); Lyrics of Life (1909); The Unconquered Air and Other Poems (1912); collected Poems, (2 vols., 1916); Pro Patria (1917).

After attending private schools in New England and the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Paris, Florence Coates traveled to Brussels, where she studied music. After the death of her first husband, she married Philadelphia financier Edward H. Coates in January of 1879. She credited Matthew Arnold, a correspondent who was a frequent visitor to their home, with influencing her literary interests. Beginning in the 1890s, Coates' poems could be seen in leading magazines. Praised for their refinement of sentiment and thought, her poems were esteemed more for their crafting than for their originality or feeling. William Butler Yeats, Edmund Clarence Stedman, and Thomas Hardy were among the distinguished followers of Coates' work. The British consul in America forwarded her "Ode on the Coronation of King George V" (1911) to the king himself.

In addition to her literary achievements, Coates is known for her social leadership. Among the organizations in which she held membership were the Colonial Dames of America, the Society of Mayflower Descendants, the Browning Club (president 1895–1903, 1907–1908), and the New Century Club. The state Federation of Women's Clubs elected her "poet laureate of Pennsylvania" in 1915.

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