Walter Jackson Bate


Honorary Degree (1969)
Doctor of Humane Letters
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: Joseph Sutton


Walter Jackson Bate, though a native of Minnesota, was an Indiana resident from the age of three until the beginning of his professional career. A graduate of the Richmond public schools, of which his father was Superintendent between 1921 and 1942, he attended Harvard University and received his A.B. degree there in 1939. Continuing his studies at Harvard, he earned his A.M. in 1940 and his Ph.D. in 1942. He became a member of the faculty of Harvard in 1946 and attained the rank of professor ten years later. From 1955 to 1956 Dr. Bate served as Chairman of Harvard's Department of History and Literature and thereafter was Chairman of the University's Department of English for six years. He is now Abbott Lawrence Lowell Professor of Humanities at Harvard.

In 1956 Dr. Bate was a Guggenheim Fellow and in the same year won the Christian Gauss Award for Literary History and Criticism. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, of The American Philosophical Association, and of Phi Beta Kappa. Held in high esteem by both faculty and students as a teacher at Harvard, Dr. Bate has also established a reputa┬Čtion for excellence as a scholar and writer in a long and distinguished career that has produced such books as Negative Capability, 1939; The Stylistic Development of Keats, 1945; From Classic to Romantic, 1946; Criticism: The Major Texts, 1952; The Achievement of Samuel Johnson, 1955; Prefaces to Criticism, 1959; John Keats, 1963; and Coleridge, 1968. In 1964 Dr. Bate received the Pulitzer Prize in Biography and a second Christian Gauss Award for his John Keats.

As a teacher both popular and highly respected, as a pre-eminent scholar in his field whose knowledge of Romanticism is well grounded in the literature of the Eighteenth Century, and as a critic who is himself a talented and polished writer, Dr. Bate has added to the distinction and honor of Harvard University, which he has served for a quarter of a century, and of the state of Indiana, where he spent the formative years of his childhood and youth.