Edgar Lee Masters (1869-1950)
Despite the number of the books he wrote in his long literary career, his reputation rests mainly on his famous Anthology, where the dead who sleep on the hill expose the hypocrisy and frustration of American village life and, in a language conversational and succinct in imitation of the laconic gravestone epitaphs, reveals the unknowable secrets of a small community. By bravely describing unknown aspects of his own country, he paved the way for the frankness of the coming years.
Edgar Lee Masters, the son of a well-to-do-lawyer, was born at Garnett, Kansas, on August 23rd, 1869, but he spent his childhood at Petersburg, Illinois, a small town on the Sangamon river. When he was eleven, his family moved to Lewistown, another small town a few kilometers from the Spoon river, where he stayed untill 1892. He studied law at Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois, and, in 1891, he was admitted to the Bar. After practicing for a short time in Lewistown, in 1892 he moved to Chicago, where he stayed and worked as a lawyer for about twenty-five years. In the meantime he had begun writing poetry, including the Spoon River Anthology (1915), one of the most popular books in American literature. He died on March 5th, 1950.