Born April 15, 1861 in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Son of William Carman and Sophia Mary Bliss (Sophia Mary Bliss was a descendent of Daniel Bliss of Concord, Massachusetts, the great-grandfather of Ralph Waldo Emerson; and was the aunt of Charles G.D. Roberts).
Educated at Collegiate Grammar School, Fredericton, along with his cousin Charles G.D. Roberts. In 1878 entered the University of New Brunswick, where he excelled in classics. Graduated in 1881.
Enrolled in Oxford University, but after only three days of attendance left for Edinburgh University, where some friends from New Brunswick were enrolled; studied physics, mathematics and philosophy. Did not write examinations. Returned to Fredericton in 1883, taught at Collegiate Grammar School, and read law. In 1884, while Roberts was editor of Goldwin Smith's The Week, had his first poem published ("Ma belle Canadienne.")
In 1886 entered Harvard University. At Harvard was influenced by philosophers Josiah Royce and George Santayana. Was also affected by his friendship with Richard Hovey and was influenced by the humanistic, transcendental work of Ralph Waldo Emerson. In 1886 had his poem "Low tide at Grand Pr‚" published in Atlantic Monthly.
Left Harvard in 1888, and worked as an editor in New York and Boston, for such journals as The Atlantic, Cosmopolitan, Current Literature, The Chapbook, The Independent, Literary World, and The Outlook. While at The Independent, published poems by Pauline Johnson, Archibald Lampman, Duncan Campbell Scott and other Canadian authors.
In 1893 published a poetry collection, Low tide on grand pr‚, winning international recognition; and between 1894 and 1900 published Songs from Vagabondia, a 3-volume series.
In 1896 met Dr. Morris Lee King and his wife, Mary Perry King. Was influenced by the philosophy of Mrs. King. Collaborated with her on The making of personality (1908) and on several other books, brochures, masques and interpretive dances. Moved in 1908 to New Canaan, Connecticut, near the Kings' estate; spent summers in a cabin near their summer home.
Met Madelaine Galbraith at a reception following her appearance in a play at Hart House, University of Toronto. She later lived in New York, studied acting and toured with several companies.
Between 1902 and 1905 published The pipes of Pan (poetry; 5 vol.'s). Edited The world's best poetry (10 vol.'s; 1904) and The Oxford book of American verse (1927). Published five books of essays, three dozen books of poetry and countless limited editions.
Memberships: was made Corresponding Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1925.
Awards: in 1906 was awarded an LL.D. by the University of New Brunswick; in 1928 was awarded the Lorne Pierce Gold Medal by the Royal Society of Canada; was posthumously awarded a medal by the Poetry Society of America.