Poet and translator Agnes Lee was born Martha Agnes Rand in Chicago and used various pen names throughout her writing career. The second daughter of William H. Rand, of map publishers Rand, McNally & Co, she was educated in Vevey, Switzerland. In 1900, she married Francis Watts Lee, settling with him in Boston. In 1911, she married Otto Freer, a Chicago surgeon.
In her accessible, formally shaped poems, Lee often explored the natural world. In 1890, a reviewer for The Atlantic described the poems in The Legend of a Thought as “pleasing, unpretentious verses.” In addition to her debut collection, The Legend of a Thought (1889, published under the name Martha Agnes Rand), her books of poetry include The Border of the Lake (1910), The Sharing (1914), Faces and Open Doors (1922), and New Lyrics and a Few Old Ones (1931). She is the author of a collection of children’s verse, The Round Rabbit (1898), and translated Théophile Gautier’s Enamels and Cameos and Other Poems (1903).
Lee published frequently in Poetry magazine and in 1926 won the magazine’s Guarantors’ Prize, which had previously been won by Robert Frost and Edna St. Vincent Millay. Lee spent her later years in Chicago and died at home of pneumonia. She is buried in Chicago’s Graceland Cemetery. A selection of letters to her from Edgar Lee Masters, an admirer, is archived in the Newberry Library in Chicago.