Masters, Edgar Lee


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Masters, Edgar Lee,

1869–1950, American poet and biographer, b. Garnett, Kans. He maintained a successful law practice in Chicago from 1892 to 1920. Masters's Spoon River Anthology (1915), a collection of epitaphs in free verse revealing the secret lives of dead citizens, was acclaimed for its treatment of small-town American life. Less successful volumes that followed include Starved Rock (1919), Domesday Book (1920), Poems of People (1936), and Illinois Poems (1941). His Lincoln the Man (1931) is a bitter and prejudiced attack. Other biographies are Vachel Lindsay (1935), Whitman (1937), and Mark Twain (1938).

Bibliography

See his autobiography Across Spoon River (1936).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Masters, Edgar Lee

 

Born Aug. 23, 1869, in Garnett, Kan.; died Mar. 5, 1950, in Philadelphia, Pa. American writer.

Until 1920, Masters worked as a lawyer. He gained fame for his Spoon River Anthology (1915), a collection of epitaphs that describes the manners and monotonous existence of a small provincial town. He was the author of novels and of fictionalized biographies of A. Lincoln (1931) and W. Whitman (1937) that are not free from exaggerated sensationalism.

WORKS

Mitch Miller. London, 1920.
The New Spoon River. New York, 1924.
Mark Twain. New York, 1938.
The Sangamon. New York, 1942.
In Russian translation:
Slyshu, poet Amerika. Moscow, 1960.

REFERENCES

Popov, I. “Sem Dzhinks na sverkhsrochnoi.” Znamia, 1970, no. 7.
Bruks, V. V. Pisatel’ iamerikanskaia zhizn’ vol. 2. Moscow, 1971. Pages 115-18.
Derleth, A. Three Literary Men. New York-Copenhagen, 1963.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Masters, Edgar Lee

(1868–1950) poet, playwright; born in Garnett, Kans. He studied at Knox College, Ill. (1889), became a lawyer (1891), and practiced in Chicago (1891–1921). He moved to New York upon retirement (1921), and continued to write plays and poetry. His only success was Spoon River Anthology (1915; revised 1916), a volume of "epitaphs," poetic portraits of smalltown Americans.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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