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Author's Name: Masters Degar Lee
Edgar Lee Masters was born in Garnett, Kansas, on August 23, 1868, but soon after his birth his family moved to Lewistown, Illinois, the town near Springfield where Masters grew up. His youth was marred by his father’s financial struggles with a faltering law practice and reluctance to support his son’s literary interests. Masters attended Knox College for a year but was then forced by the family’s finances to withdraw and continue his studies privately. He was admitted to the bar in 1891, and he moved to Chicago in 1892, where he found a job collecting bills for the Edison Company. He gradually built a successful law practice, and for eight years he was the partner of Clarence Darrow. In 1898 he published his first collection, A Book of Verses, and married Helen Jenkins. His first books, some of which were published under pseudonyms, showed strong influences from the English Romantic poets and Edgar Allan Poe.
In 1915, Edgar Lee Masters published a book of dramatic monologues written in free verse about a fictional town called Spoon River, based on the Midwestern towns where he grew up. The shocking scandals and secret tragedies of Spoon River were immediately recognized by readers as authentic. Masters raises the dead “sleeping on the hill” in their village cemetery to tell the truth about their lives, and their testimony topples the American myth of the moral superiority of small-town life. Spoon River, as undeniably corrupt and cruel as the big city, is home to murderers, drunkards, crooked bankers, lechers, bitter wives, abusive husbands, failed dreamers, and a few good souls. The freshness of this masterpiece undiminished, Spoon River Anthology remains a landmark of American literature.
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