Alfred H. Miles, ed. Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century. 1907.
Critical and Biographical Essay by Alfred H. Miles
Ada Bartrick Baker (1854 )
A PALACE of Dreams, and Other Verse, published in 1901, presented to the public in a collected form a number of poems which had previously attracted attention in the pages of well-known magazines, together with some new poems not previously published. The author, Ada Bartrick Baker, a daughter of Samuel and Louisa Budden, was born at Notting Hill, on the 8th of November, 1854, but much of her early life was spent in a pretty Kentish village, whither her parents removed while she was quite young, and where she remained until her marriage in 1884. Her father, who belongs to an old Dorsetshire family, traces a direct descent from the brother of the famous English Admiral, Blake, and the family is not without memorials of the great commander himself.
An omnivorous reader and a writer of verses from childhood, Mrs. Baker was at no time anxious to rush into print, hence the volume of verse which challenged public opinion in 1901, had the advantage of the careful self-criticism of maturer powers. Her literary taste and poetic culture was fostered by her mother, whose admirable readings from Shakespeare, Tennyson, Carlyle, Ruskin, and Mrs. Browning enlivened the tea-table of the quiet Kentish home. Early in life she conceived an intense admiration for the poetry of Robert Browning, the outcome of which was some interesting correspondence and personal intercourse with the poet and his sister, and a sonnet to his memory, contributed to the Pall Mall Gazette on the anniversary celebration of 1896. In the following year Mrs. Baker contributed a series of twelve sonnets on the months, written many years before, to the Pall Mall Magazine. The sonnet sequence which gives title to her first volume, embodies the idea of a deep passion spiritualised, and emphasises the belief that possession can be foregone when the soul grasps the higher aspect of love. At times a sigh escapes and human loneliness is realised; but the uplifting thought is that love rejoices in loving rather than possessing, and that love can only be perfect in self-renunciation.
Mrs. Bakers verse evidences both passion and imagination, in the expression of which she shows dramatic instinct and lyrical facility. Family circumstances have imposed upon her long silences, but more may be hoped from the larger leisure of future opportunity.