century association biographical archive

Earliest Members of the Century Association

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Charles de Kay

U.S. Consul-General/Poet

Centurion, 1896–1935

Full Name Charles Augustus de Kay

Born 25 July 1848 in Washington, District of Columbia

Died 23 May 1935 in New York (Manhattan), New York

Buried Saint George’s Church Cemetery, Hempstead, New York

Proposed by Noah Brooks, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and Edmund C. Stedman

Elected 5 December 1896 at age forty-eight

Archivist’s Note: Brother-in-law of Richard Watson Gilder; father-in-law of Peyton Rous; grandfather of George de Kay and Ormonde de Kay

Seconder of:

Century Memorial

Of Charles de Kay, for nearly forty years a member of the Century, Robert Underwood Johnson once recalled that “in the Seventies de Kay, then recently returned from Europe, a handsome and spirited figure in New York life, was showing himself one of the best-equipped and ‘all-around’ literary men of that day. He was the master of more branches of knowledge than any man I have ever met—art, science, philosophy, Oriental lore, general literature.” De Kay’s remarkable memory was stored with a wealth of folktales, gathered from his reading in seventeen languages. When his eight children were young, he used to spin them serial yarns that often ran to twenty nightly instalments. His earlier American Indian story “Manmat’ha,” published in the Atlantic Monthly anonymously, as was then the custom, was attributed to Hawthorne. The Scribners brought out four full volumes of his poems in the early Eighties, but the greater part of his writing was on art and literature, and appeared through several decades in the New York Times and Evening Post. Persistently and almost alone, he early expressed his appreciation of the painter, Albert Ryder.

Alexander Dana Noyes
1936 Century Association Yearbook