Straightening The Record Out

Kage Baker was born to George Henry Baker and Katherine Carmichael, the first of their 6 children. She was formally named Mary Kate Genevieve Baker.

She was followed by Mary Anne Jeffreys Baker; Anthony Jude Thaddeus Baker; George Henry Baker 2nd; James Joseph McCarthy Baker; and finally by Genevieve Emily Baker.

The discerning Reader will notice a few things implied in this list. 1) Kage didn’t care for the name on her birth certificate. 2) Her family, like the antique Romans, used the same names over and over. 3) There were a lot of kids in the family, including two Genevieves. And 4)  I – Kathleen Marie Gabriel Bartholomew – don’t show up anywhere in that lineup.

Technically, I’m a foster child (at best). George and Katherine Baker were wonderful, generous, warm people and one of their virtues was their habit of taking in strays. At one point, I recall that every child in the family had a friend living with them most of the time. Mrs. Baker used to say that she didn’t really like children: she just liked her own – but she extended that to claim many kids who would otherwise have been lost over the years.

I was one of them. Mrs. Baker more or less raised me from early adolescence; when I left home, having been emphatically dismissed by my own mother, it was to the Baker family that I fled. When Kage left home a year later, she moved in with me.  For 40-odd years, Kage and I introduced ourselves to others as sisters. Because we were.

I was called “Auntie”. I was invited to the holiday meals. I cooked and cleaned and painted and gardened and borrowed the car and wasted time and did homework and snuck out to meet boys. I cared for both George and Katherine in their final illnesses; I spoke at Katherine’s eulogy. During that last sickness, Katherine told me to take care of Kage – when we compared notes, we found she had told Kage to take care of me. I guess that “only one working brain between ’em” thing was obvious to Katherine …

So, anyway, that’s the way things were. Kage left me her notes and her writing and her request to keep her name and work alive. I’ve tried to do that.

Last week, the spouse of one of Kage’s blood siblings posted a statement on a review site, to the effect that I was not Kage Baker’s sister. The statement scolded literary people for not checking their facts. It noted that I made frequent references to this on my blog. It stated this deceit was an annoyance that could no longer be tolerated.

I didn’t know anyone felt like this. I was … taken aback, especially when I was informed of this by the administrator of the review site – not by any of the Bakers whom I have known for decades of my life (and theirs). I still haven’t been contacted, although I’ve requested it. I’m ashamed, embarrassed, in pain, and confused.  Cruelest of all, the writing has been shot and left in a ditch for dead.  It feels like Kage dying all over again – except that this time, someone wants to take even her memory away from me.

Well, that can’t be done. My neurons and probably portions of my DNA were permanently altered by the  burning radiation of Kage’s life. Gamma rays don’t wash off.

But, in respect and courtesy, I need to correct at least the perception that I have been trying to lie or cheat or otherwise defraud the public. I hope I’ve done so here. I want to get back to my work now.

Was Kage Baker my blood relative, my genetic sibling? No. Was she my sister? Oh, yes – she was. And she said so.




About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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27 Responses to Straightening The Record Out

  1. Brad Campbell says:

    That’s about the third, possibly fourth time your blog has made me cry. Prior to this it was when you spoke of Kage’s pain and passing. Hearing of the needless pain you’re going through brought the water-works on once more.
    I believe I told you, when I read ‘On Land and At Sea’, that I heard the SAME VOICE that I heard in ‘The Women of Nell Gwynne’s.” It was like hearing the ‘blood harmony’ of the Everly Brothers, who were brothers or Simon & Garfunkel who were also brothers where it counted.

    I have no doubts that your sister Kage is as angry & sad as her/your fans are.
    I’m too polite to say what I mean, but the second word of 2 word sentence is__________ ‘em.

    Now I gotta go blow my nose.



  2. Mike Bennett says:

    Like Brad, this has upset me too. I love reading yours and Kage’s work and don’t care about your genetic relationship with others. I am reminded of Mother Teresa’s long quote about doing good anyways, because ultimately, it wasn’t about you and them, it was about you and God. You are keeping the faith in your heart and all of us here love and respect that.
    Carry on, dear sister…carry on…
    Mike Bennett


  3. Kara says:

    I’m so sorry to hear you are going through such pain. Mama Baker was clearly an amazing woman who recognized Family is about Love not Blood!

    And I don’t care what anyone says or if you are Butcher, Baker OR Candlestick-maker – the writing shows you are truly Kage’s sister.

    Charlotte is 100% a Company character (complete with deep rooted recruitment-trauma wound up to keep her gears ticking) and I can’t wait to read more of her!


    • Kate says:

      Thanks, Kara. And yes, more of Charlotte’s story will be forthcoming – as soon as the skies stop falling on my head quite so frequently. And as for Katherine Baker – oh, man, she was an astounding woman! A steel magnolia of impeccable breeding and toughness; a talented artist; a great cook; and an overal joyous and loving person. She’s part of the basis for Mrs. Smith, in “Anvil of the World”, Kage’s happy memorial to her amazing mother. That lady was something else.


  4. mizkizzle says:

    Of course you’re Kage’s sister, in every way that counts. You and she have (almost) the same voice. It’s evident in your writing. Whoever that person was who instigated this nastiness, bad cess on him/her.
    I assumed you had a different last name from Kage because you were married at some point, or you just liked the name Bartholomew (and who wouldn’t? It’s a terrific name that rolls off the tongue with a satisfying, plummy gravity.) The story of how you joined the Baker family is marvellous. I’m glad you shared it but I’m sorry for the unpleasantness. And what was the point, for Pete’s sake? It’s not as if you were raking in tons of loot by scamming people somehow. Man, people can be horrid.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kate says:

      People are complicated, and get funny when they’re unhappy. Kage’s death is a huge vacuum in her family; no one has quite recovered from it. While I don’t understand quite what was underlying all this, I do believe that I offended some folks I’ve known and – yes, loved – for most of my life. So I’ve gone on record to set the record straight. Now, I hope, life can go back to trying to resume.

      There is nothing that can set one free – or weigh one down – as much as family!


    • Michael Kane says:

      I was not horrid. I have always, always regarded Kathleen Bartholomew as a brilliant and highly intelligent and well read person and as I said in print excellent writer. My wife and I have always believed in the Work, in Kathleen Bartholomew publishing great novels and stories. I fully expect her to win the Nebula and Hugo awards. People, do not rush to judgement. I fully, and stalwartly believe in Kathleen B. Michael Kane and my respects to you mizkizzle.


      • mizkizzle says:

        If you merely wanted to set the record straight, you could have asked Ms. Bartholomew to contact the review site in question and post something on her blog. Instead, you blindsided her and made her very unhappy. If it bothered you so much, why wait until now to do it? Kage has been gone five years. You had plenty of time to speak up. We only have Ms. Bartholomew’s side of the story, so Iets hear yours.
        I’m asking because you chose to become involved in this public forum by posting a comment in which you praised Ms. Bartholomew’s writing ability and yet you failed to answer the burning question: why? What prompted you to publicly accuse her of perpetrating a falsehood? And why now? You’re her brother-in-law, right? So what’s it to you if Ms. Bartholomew says she’s Kage Baker’s sister or claims to be Marie of Romania?


  5. maggiros says:

    This is simply beyond words. What a vile, despicable, heartless, mean thing to say, not to mention ridiculous, and especially without ever having even communicated any of it to you. I knew about your relationship, of course, because one time I asked about the name difference and you told me. There’s no deceit involved. You called each other sister, introduced yourselves that way your whole lives. If Kage thought you were her sister, (and vice versa) then you were her sister! It’s no one else’s call, and certainly not the *spouse* of a sibling. When I felt that I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach, and it’s not even my family. I’ll shut up now, except to say how sorry I am, my dear, that you are having to go through this,. and offer a prayer that it will pass soon and with some grace.


  6. Marc Bailey says:

    My own experience has shown me that siblings can be by blood or by choice. In fact Brad Campbell has been my brother by choice for over 50 years. You are most certainly Kage’s sister. Anyone shallow enough to be unable to appreciate that conveys a woeful lack of living experience. Or, to put it more simply, let me go my brother Brad: *********** ’em.


  7. Lynda True says:

    I love reading your blog. It’s often one of the highlights of the morning, while I sip on that all-important second cup of coffee. I’m so very sorry that someone (anyone) would have said such a hateful and cruel thing to you. Of course you were (and still are) sister to Kage; how could anyone even doubt it? You have such a generous heart.

    My thoughts will be with you this evening.


  8. Luisa Puig says:

    Heavens and saints preserve us! Up to this point I’ve had to leave my desk multiple times, so as not to descend down to the loathsome level of that person, whomever he or she may be.

    Suffice it to write that I agree with everyone else who has posted above, and am proud to state that I have had the pleasure of knowing both you and Kage for the past (gracious) forty years.

    In that wonderful time I have always known both you and Kage to be honest, forthright, trustworthy, loyal … well the whole shebang, really. And yes, you Kathleen have often been outspoken, and also you have been courageous enough to visibly stand by your word and ground, and certainly never have stooped to back stabbing or secondhand sniping.

    So, despite (perhaps because of ?) any flimsy excuse one might trumpt up via DNA or institution, I would be proud to call you Sister. Certainly you are a better person than any whom might wield a pathetic, mis-placed sense of righteousness in the name of ‘family.’

    Yoicks. Time to step away from the keyboard again, lest my laptop explode in ire.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michael Kane says:

      To everyone intent on placing that person in the stocks, let it be known that I have always believed that Kathleen Bartholomew would publish great, fantastic stories and novels, She is going to win the Hugo and the Nebula, I have always believed this. Do not rush to judgement — just believe as I do in the good Lady and her talent.


  9. athene says:

    You’re being astonishingly kind about this – this just makes me want to kill someone. Completely uncalled for, and totally baseless after all these years. What is the matter with people?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Carol says:

    Kate, there is NO cause for you to be “ashamed, embarrassed, in pain, and confused” — you’ve done nothing, absolutely nothing wrong. Athene has it right, there is something very much the matter with people,or at least the people-like personage who made that comment. It says more about him/her than it says anything about you. Hard to say what part of his/her life caused this – hardship, jealousy, frustration, lack of one’s own talent – but something did. It’s never fair to cause other people pain because you have some.

    You could not have been more Kage’s sister if you’d been born and remained conjoined. In every way that counts, you were about the best possible sister anyone could have and Kage was very lucky to have you. The Baker family was and is lucky to have you.

    Please know that no one who knows you (even superficially through you blog) could believe for a nanosecond that you intended to deceive or offend. Or did.

    It’s hurtful but not truthful and ultimately, not real.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. buggybite says:

    Good grief. I was so sad to read this because you seem so upset. I mean it’s easy to see why this is upsetting for you, but how cruel can people be? Especially as you and Kage AND THE FAMILY have been so entwined over the years. Calling Kage ‘my best friend’ doesn’t convey the depth of the connection between you two. Both of you were a pillar of strength for the other, and now you are keeping Kage alive for her readers and friends in a way this ‘spouse’ hasn’t bothered to do.

    By all means feel bad for a short time, if you need to …but then carry on with your fantastic story set in Australia. To all of us who read your blog and who read Kage’s stories, you are Kage Baker’s sister, and always will be.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. catharoo says:

    What a rampant crock of hooie. I watch a tv show that has a line “Family don’t end in blood”. Words to live by, if you ask me.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. mattmarovich says:

    Mom, it pisses me off that someone would make a post like this necessary. Anyone who knew the two of you would know that you were siblings and the fact that such a cold-hearted, uncaring individual (who, I’d wager, didn’t even know Kage all that well if they’d say something like that) said that, well, you know me well enough to know what I’d tell them to their face. Kage was your family, nothing will change that, not even someone who apparently is attempting to lay claim to something that isn’t theirs.


    • Michael Kane says:

      Kage Baker. I cared about her and definitely care about Kathleen’s health and posted above my heartfelt praise of Kathleen Bartholomew and her writing. Just finished that fine Feb Asimov story. Funny isn’t Matt how people presume uncaring attitudes when disagreement is expressed.


      • Kate says:

        I posted my fact straightening in order to prevent a public fight on someone else’s site: which struck me as very rude. But please, folks, let’s not have one here either. I don’t want to quarrel, especially not in public.

        Michael, you’re under no obligation to go public here for anything at all. I didn’t out you, and I had no intention of doing so. If you have something to actually say to me, I hope you will contact me directly. If not – well, it’s sad but I’m not going to censor anyone here. Or fight with them, either. I don’t doubt your fond memories of and respect for Kage. And now, I don’t care much about your opinion of me. Let’s let this end, please.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Rachel says:

    It sounds like the spouse is a closet pedant. My family has certainly been filled out by family who aren’t related to us by blood, and it’s no one’s business whether they were legally adopted or not.


    • Kate says:

      Rachel – to be honest, there are no closet pedants in my family. We’re all right out there in the open … Michael Kane is a good man. He’s got a problem with me and I don’t know why; or indeed, what the problem is. I don’t want to fight about it.

      You folks have all been tremendously supportive, and I thank you all most sincerely.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Mike Young says:

    I am sorry some oaf has hurt you for no apparent reason except that he could.

    You were/ are family of choice which is a greater achievement than some random cell encounter.
    Much love and gentle hugs from me.


  16. Lynn says:

    Grr. Listen to you other family members for now – The Kathleen, Kage and the Company family, the Faire families, the SF family. As byggybite said, feel badly for a while but remember all those who love you and wish you to heal. As Kage said, ” All that matters. Is the work.”


  17. colinchief says:

    As is mentioned above, mere genetic material has no call on the heart, not in the face of the chosen. Our family, families, and Families are legion. And remarkably seem to even connect with that genetic material here in Maccolin. Oate and Jessica are second cousins inlaw thru her husband’s kin. , And the Thompson’s are Christal’s cousin on her Mother’s side. God only knows the many they are related to thru the Mayflower connection. All of my other kin are a legal fiction of my adoption. But I know that I am Father and Grandfather to many, many more who live in me. in a “fiction” too large to ignore. Protoplasm is just so provincial after all.


  18. Daniele says:

    I have a painting of a little girl in patch of dasies By K C Baker. I believe this is Kathryn Carmichael Baker. we would love to know more about the painting, who is the little girl and more about Kathryn
    if possible. We absolutly love her work.


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