Blake, Mary Elizabeth (1840–1907), poet, was born in September 1840 at Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, daughter of Patrick McGrath and his wife Mary (née Murphy). The family emigrated in 1846 to Quincy, Massachusetts, USA, where Patrick McGrath was a marble-worker and businessman. After secondary education at George B. Emerson's private school in Boston, she trained as a schoolteacher at the Academy of the Sacred Heart, latterly Manhattanville College, in Purchase, New York, where she also studied music and modern languages. She married (1865) John G. Blake, a Boston physician; they had eleven children.
Mary Blake's poetry was published in the Boston archdiocese paper, the Boston Pilot, where she wrote under the name ‘Marie of the Pilot’, in catholic periodicals, and in a number of Boston papers including the Gazette and the Boston Transcript; her column ‘Rambling talks’ was a regular feature in the Boston Journal. She had a reputation as an occasional poet, with verse that commemorated Bostonians of the day including Wendell Phillips, Adm. David Dixon Porter, and the Most Rev. John J. Williams, archbishop of Boston. Blake's poems also celebrated such events as the golden jubilee of the Sisters of Charity and the 150th anniversary of the Charitable Irish Society. Oliver Wendell Holmes told her: ‘You are one of the birds that must sing’, and Theodore Roosevelt was said to be an admirer of her work despite the fact that she was an active member of the American Peace Society, and her first published work was The coming reform (c.1880), a pamphlet widely circulated during the Spanish–American war, which criticised ‘the absurdities of old-fashioned militarism at home and abroad’.
In addition to Poems (1882), Poem: a memorial to Wendell Phillips (1884), Verse along the way (1890), and In the harbour of hope (1907), Blake wrote travel books including On the wing: rambling notes of a trip to the Pacific (1883), an account of her trip across America which was serialised in the Boston Journal (1882), and A summer holiday in Europe (1890), a travelogue based on her five trips to Europe, which included three walking tours with her children. She died in Boston on 26 February 1907.