Anne Sexton

By Diane Wood Middlebrook,

Book cover of Anne Sexton: A Biography

Book description

At the time of her suicide in October 1974, Anne Sexton, 45, occupied a central position on the American poetry scene. Today, her reputation is tangled up with that of Sylvia Plath, whom she knew, and tainted with images of monster or victim. This biography, written with the full co-operation…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked Anne Sexton as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This poignant narrative of Anne Sexton’s life takes you inside the complicated emotions of a prize winning poet who began her career as a suburban housewife and mother. I especially loved but also envied the portrait of Sexton’s long friendship with poet Maxine Kumin with whom Sexton took her first steps in the writing of poetry. Famously, the two women kept a separate phone line open between their houses so that they could share and craft lines between domestic chores. Sadly, despite the pulls of friendship, the biography shows, even the most talented writer has demons that can’t be vanquished.…

Middlebrook’s Anne Sexton is a model literary biography because of her thorough evocation of life at midcentury for middle-class women, and their everyday frustrations and humiliations because of their sex. Sexton was at once privileged because of her striking beauty, creativity, and connections to the beating heart of American poetry after World War II (through Robert Lowell), and hobbled by her self-destructive mental illness. Taken together with Milford’s book, these biographies are shocking documents of the barbarism of mental health care for women in the twentieth century.

From Ann's list on biographies of American women.

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