I went in search of the teachings of Gerald Stanley Lee and learned that, although he was indeed a teacher and philosopher, he was born in 1862 and would have been five years old when Amy was born – certainly not old enough to have been writing parental advice. The books he wrote were not published until the early 1900s. Most were musings on democracy and the industrialization of the United States. I found one, The Child and the Book (Book I of The Lost Art of Reading), billed as a “Constructive Criticism of Education,” but it was written in 1907 – when Amy Beach was forty!

How did biographer Adrienne Block get it so wrong? Did she make up the association to build her case about the parental suppression of Amy’s gifts? Did she rely on some authoritative source who had erred? I have researched extensively, but can find no other such Gerald Lee. Block may have read some advice by this man when she was writing the Beach book (1998), and mistakenly linked his “old teachings” as having influenced Amy’s mother’s parenting - not bothering to check the exact dates.

This incorrect data, passed off as fact in a biography about Amy Beach, did throw me. It made me question all the other information in published biographies about Beach. Previously I had questioned many of the biographers’ expressed opinions about Beach and her life (the opinions I disagreed with were in great part what prompted me to write this book about Amy Beach). The Gerald Lee error discovery made me realize I also needed to question the “facts” I was uncovering.

There is also a possibility that Clara fabricated a story about a popular educator’s influence on her parenting when she tried to weave the memory quilt of Amy’s life after the fact, drawing on a man whom she was aware of later in history and misplacing his existence in the real world timeline. Or perhaps she mentioned some shadow educator and Block created the link with Lee without fact-checking. (go to p3)