A novelist and poet in her own right, Katherine Jones Bellamann’s many artistic accomplishments were often overshadowed by those of her husband, Henry Bellamann, a poet and novelist best known for his 1940 novel, Kings Row. Katherine was very proud of her unique creative association with her husband and described it vividly in her foreword to Parris Mitchell of Kings Row, her husband’s unfinished sequel to Kings Row, which she completed in 1948, after his death. The combined papers and manuscripts of Henry and Katherine Bellamann, housed in the University of Mississippi’s Department of Archives and Special Collections, testify that the work of the two writers was closely entwined: they often shared notebooks and sometimes even single pages. Because Henry Bellamann was the more famous writer, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that Katherine Bellamann published two novels of her own, one seventeen years before Parris Mitchell of Kings Row and the other several years later.
Born Katherine Jones in Carthage, Mississippi, on 7 October 1877, she was teaching at Grayson College in Texas when she married Henry Bellamann in 1907. The two took teaching posts at Chicora College in Greenville, South Carolina. When the college moved to Columbia, they went, too, and over the next decade they entertained such eminent people as Carl Sandburg, Amy Lowell, and Charles Ives. In 1924 Henry Bellamann began teaching at Juilliard in New York; Katherine joined him a year later.
Katherine Bellamann’s literary efforts were not limited to novels. Her sketchbooks reveal that throughout her life she wrote hundreds of poems, some of which were published in journals and in two small volumes in 1956 and 1958 (posthumously). Many of Bellamann’s verses can be classified as romantic southern nature poems, and she experimented with sonnets.
During the last years of her life, she devoted herself almost exclusively to poetry and became actively involved with several poetry societies and journals. After her husband died in 1945, she returned to Jackson and lived there until her death on 8 November 1956. She was buried with her husband in New York City.
- Harry McBrayer Bayne, “A Critical Study of Henry Bellamann’s Life and Work” (PhD dissertation, University of Mississippi, 1990)
- Henry and Katherine Bellamann Collection, Department of Archives and Special Collections, J. D. Williams Library, University of Mississippi
- Leslie Jean Campbell, “Henry Bellamann’s Kings Row: A Reevaluation of a Forgotten Best-Seller” (master’s thesis, University of Mississippi, 1978)
- Jay Miles Karr, introduction, Parris Mitchell of Kings Row (1986); James B. Lloyd, Lives of Mississippi Authors, 1817–1967 (1981)
- Mississippi Writers and Musicians Project website, http://www.mswritersandmusicians.com