Edgar Lee Masters
Pen Name: Webster Ford
Born: August 23, 1868 in Garnette, Kansas
Died: March 5, 1950
Celebrated on the Illinois State Library, Gwendolyn Brooks Building
"Degenerate sons and daughters, Life is too strong for you- It takes life to love life." - Edgar Lee Masters, Lucinda Matlock
Masters was raised in Petersburg and Lewistown in Menard County. He also lived in Chicago.
Biographical and Professional Information
Edgar Lee Masters was a poet, novelist and biographer. He was one of the most important poets of the Chicago Renaissance. His Spoon River Anthology (1915) beccame the single most widely read book of American poetry. He was raised in Petersburg and Lewistown, Illinois, and studied law and literature.
Masters, along with Vachel Lindsay and Carl Sandburg, was one of the three important poets of the Chicago Renaissance. A Chicago lawyer, he wrote Spoon River Anthology (1915), a series of monologues in which residents of the small town of Spoon River speak from beyond the grave of the narrowness, constriction and disappointments of their lives. The book was immensely popular, becoming the single most widely read book of American poetry. It also had an important impact on the development of modern poetry, with its ironic, anti-romantic tone, freedom of form and plain, colloquial diction. Later works include a biography of Vachel Lindsay (1935), Across Spoon River (1936) and The Sangamon (1942).
- Spoon River Anthology, 1915
- Domesday Book, 1920
- The New Spoon River, 1924
- The Fate of Jury, 1929
- Vachel Lindsay, 1935
- Invisible Landscapes, 1935
- The Golden Fleece of California, 1936
- Poems of People, 1936
- Across Spoon River, 1937
- The Tide of Time, 1937
- Whitman, 1937
- Mark Twain: A Portrait, 1938
- More People, 1939
- Along Illinois, 1942
- The Sangamon, 1942
Titles at Your Library
- Mark Twain Silver Medal, 1936
- Poetry Society of America medal, 1941
- Academy of American Poets Fellowship, 1942
- Shelley Memorial Award, 1944
- Awarded Illinois Author of the Year by the Illinois Association of Teachers of English in 1974.
- In 1990, his name was engraved on the frieze of the Illinois State Library alongside other great Illinois literary figures.
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