Mayo, Katherine

Mayo, Katherine

(1867–1940) journalist, author; born in Ridgway, N.J. She was educated by tutors, in private schools and through travels in Europe. She spent much of the time between 1899 and 1907 in Dutch Guiana with her mining-engineer father, and there and in New York City she pursued a variety of activities—writing magazine articles, collecting insects, researching for a biography of John Brown. In 1910 she commenced what would be a lifelong relationship with M. Moyca Newell, an orphaned heiress; they would build an estate in Bedford Hills, N.Y., travel widely, and collaborate on certain writings. Freed of financial worries, Mayo began to dedicate herself to rather unusual causes such as calling for a state police force for the countryside or exposing the American Legion lobby. In two books, however, she found topics of broader concern—Isles of Fear (1925), about the chaotic conditions in the Philippines, and Mother India (1927), an exposé of what she saw as the sexual obsessions and the subjugation of women in that land. Behind much of her advocacy, however, lay her own preoccupations with Anglo-Saxon racial superiority and male sexual habits, so she never attained the status of a major social reformer.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.