Spoon River Anthology

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate November 2001

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Edgar Lee Masters lived in a time where the country was growing and the people were divided. Masters writings were greatly influenced on his own feelings on how the country should grow and also on the actions how Americans went to make it grow. This paper will ask the question: Did Edgar Lee Masters poetry reflect his feelings on such issues of his times as imperialism, and the Spanish-American war.

Edgar Lee Masters was born in Garnett, Kansas and moved with his family to Lewistown, Illinois, on the Spoon River when he was eleven. Masters grew up greatly admiring his father , who worked as a grocer and school teacher before becoming a lawyer. Attending and studying law at Knox College Masters went to work in his fathers law firm. It was about this time that he started contributing poems and sonnets to newspapers and magazines. After he was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1891, he moved to Chicago, where he worked for a time as a bill collector before entering a law partnership with Clarence Darrow.

He continued to place poems in various journals, and his first book, A Book Of Verses appeared in 1898, the year also of his marriage to Helen Jenkins. While living in Chicago Masters published several more books of poetry using the pseudonyms Dexter Wallace, Webster Ford, Harley Prowler, Elmer Chubb, Lute Puckett, and Lucius Atherton in fear that if renown as a poet it would hurt his law practice; However, these early collections were undistinguished and attracted little to no attention. He also wrote and published a number of plays, none of which were produced. Masters private life started to crumble when he tried to break off his marriage to marry Ms. Tennessee Mitchell and then dissolved his partnership with...