Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Edgar Lee Masters  

Pen Name: Webster Ford

Genre: Poetry

Audience: Adult;

Born: August 23, 1868 in Garnette, Kansas

Died: March 5, 1950

-- Edgar Lee Masters on Modern American Poetry Website --
-- Edgar Lee Masters on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

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).

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Spoon River Anthology
ISBN: 1605895938

Quill Pen Classics. 2010

Spoon River Anthology, written by legendary author Edgar Lee Masters is widely considered to be one of the greatest books of all time. This great classic will surely attract a whole new generation of readers. For many, Spoon River Anthology is required reading for various courses and curriculums. And for others who simply enjoy reading timeless pieces of classic literature, this gem by Edgar Lee Masters is highly recommended. Published by Quill Pen Classics and beautifully produced, Spoon River Anthology would make an ideal gift and it should be a part of everyone's personal library.

Domesday Book
ISBN: 1408602768

Mccutchen Press. 2007

Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900s and before, are now extremely scarce and increasingly expensive. We are republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork.

The Fate of the Jury an Epilogue to Domesday Book
ISBN: 1417900407

Kessinger Publishing. 2005

1929. From the dust jacket: As a second title to this poem, Edgar Lee Masters has chosen An Epilogue to Domesday Book, for here he has reconnected in a separate and complete narrative, the lives of the jurymen that figured in that earlier poem. The central portrait is of the coroner, Merivale, and his love for the mysteriously beautiful Arielle against this are told the stories of the other men. Each is a testimony to the inner meaning of live, the confusion, frustration and joys that are the share of small men. The deep irony and intolerance of hypocrisy that have marked Mr. Masters' other works are present in this poem. The power, the vivid insight that characterized Spoon River Anthology are also here, while the unfolding narrative gives a dramatic interest to the poem as a whole. See other titles by this author available from Kessinger Publishing.


  • Mark Twain Silver Medal, 1936
  • Poetry Society of America medal, 1941
  • Academy of American Poets Fellowship, 1942
  • Shelley Memorial Award, 1944
  • Illinois Author of the Year, Illinois Association of Teachers of English, 1974
  • Name engraved on the frieze of the Illinois State Library alongside other great Illinois literary figures, 1990
  • Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, 2014