Edgar Lee Masters

Easton Press Edgar Lee Masters books

Spoon River Anthology - The Collector's Library of Famous Editions - 1992

Franklin Library Edgar Lee Masters books

Spoon River Anthology - 100 Greatest Masterpieces of American Literature - 1983

Edgar Lee Masters biography

Edgar Lee Masters was an American poet, biographer, and dramatist best known for his groundbreaking work, Spoon River Anthology, which revolutionized American poetry in the early 20th century. Born on August 23, 1868, in Garnett, Kansas, Masters grew up in Illinois, where his family moved when he was still young. Masters' childhood was marked by tragedy and hardship. His father struggled with financial difficulties, and his mother passed away when he was just twelve years old. Despite these challenges, he attended Knox College in Galesburg Illinois. Masters excelled academically and went on to study law at the University of Michigan, graduating in 1891.

After completing his legal studies, Masters established a successful law practice in Chicago, but his true passion lay in writing. He began his literary career as a journalist and later transitioned to poetry and fiction. Before gaining fame in American Literature, Edgar Lee Masters wrote a number of plays and A Book of Verses (1898). In 1915, he published his most famous work, Spoon River Anthology, a collection of free verse epitaphs spoken by the residents of a fictional Midwestern town. Spoon River Anthology was a departure from traditional poetic forms, with its candid and unflinching portrayal of small-town life, love, loss, and the human condition. Through the voices of over two hundred characters buried in the Spoon River cemetery, Masters painted a vivid and often darkly humorous portrait of American society at the turn of the century. It is written as a series of revelations of the secret lives of people in a small Midwestern town supposedly made by them after death. In contrast to popular American Literature of the time A Spoon River Anthology displays irony and realism. A Spoon River Anthology remains an important example of a rejection of the social standards that flourished in American society during the first and second decades of the 20Th century.

The publication of Spoon River Anthology catapulted Masters to literary fame, earning him widespread acclaim and recognition as one of America's most innovative poets. The collection's frank treatment of taboo subjects, such as infidelity, suicide, and social injustice, challenged prevailing Victorian mores and paved the way for the confessional poetry of the 20th century. In addition to his poetry, Masters wrote numerous biographies, novels, and plays over the course of his career, though none achieved the same level of success as Spoon River Anthology.

Through out his writing career, Edgar Lee Masters wrote many books including books of poems, biographies, and novels. Among the other books by Edgar Lee Masters are Songs and Satires (1916), Domesday Book (1920), Mitch Miller (1920), Children of the Market Place (1922), Skeeters Kirby (1923), The New Spoon River (1924), Vachel Lindsay a Biography (1935), Poems of People (1936), Whitman a biography (1937), The New World (1937), Mark Twain a Biography (1938), More People (1939), Illinois Poems (1941), and Along the Illinois (1942). He continued to write and publish prolifically until his death on March 5, 1950, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, leaving behind a rich and enduring literary legacy that continues to inspire readers and writers to this day.

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