Sexton, Anne

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Sexton, Anne

Anne Sexton (Harvey), 1928–74, American poet, b. Newton, Mass. Educated at Garland Junior College and at Radcliffe, she worked briefly as a fashion model in Boston. Her "confessional poetry" is highly autobiographical, marked by irony and lyrical emotion, and often dwells on themes of madness and death. Her first work, To Bedlam and Part Way Back (1960), deals in personal terms with her efforts to retain her sanity. Other works include Selected Poems (1964, 1988), Live or Die (1966; Pulitzer Prize), Love Poems (1969), Transformations (1971), The Book of Folly (1973), The Death Notebooks (1974), the posthumous The Awful Rowing Toward God (1975), and The Complete Poems (1981). Sexton died at 46, an apparent suicide. Her daughter, Linda Gray Sexton, is a novelist and essayist.

See D. W. Middlebrook, Anne Sexton: A Biography (1991); J. D. McClatchy, ed., Anne Sexton, the Artist and Her Critics (1978); L. G. Sexton, Searching for Mercy Street: My Journey Back to My Mother, Anne Sexton (1994).

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