Anne Sexton


				

				

Anne Sexton

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Anne Gray Harvey was born in 1928 in Newton, Massachusetts to parents Ralph Harvey, and Mary Gray Staples. The tension of her adolescence harmed Sexton, caught between her abusive, alcoholic father, and her mother’s frustrated literary ambitions. Her parents sent the disobedient Anne to Rogers Hall, a boarding school in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1945. At the age of nineteen, Anne eloped with Alfred “Kayo” Sexton II, despite the fact that she was already engaged at the time of the elopement. Her charm and beauty led Anne to become a fashion model at Boston’s Hart Agency. Anne and Kayo would have two daughters: Linda Gray Sexton (memoirist and novelist), and Joyce Sexton.

After the death of her great-aunt Anna Digley, Anne had her first mental breakdown in 1954. Anne became extremely open about her depression, and would speak candidly about the matter. Because of her second mental breakdown in 1955, Anne met Dr. Martin Orne, who suggested she try to handle her depression by writing. He encouraged her to try her hand at poetry, and she soon took her first poetry workshop, taught by John Holmes. Anne’s immediate success was encouraged by her mentor, W. D. Snodgrass, and she was first published in The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, and the Saturday Review. In 1957, Sexton attended another poetry workshop, this one taught by Robert Lowell.

Notably, Sexton set the stage for female poets not only in her success, but also in her brave subject matter, such as menstruation, abortion, masturbation, and adultery. In this way, she helped to redraw the boundaries of poetry. Transformations, published in 1972, featured her most feminist works which spoke to the reader in a raw, believable way that made the audience believe that they were not alone in their fear and angst.

In 1974, after repeated attempts, Sexton committed suicide by inhaling carbon monoxide gas.



Sources

Bildir, Hata. "The Biography of Anne Sexton - Life Story." PoemHunter.com. Oct. 2010. Web. 18 Oct. 2010. <http://www.poemhunter.com/anne-sexton/biography/>.

Wagner-Martin, Linda. "Anne Sexton's Life." Department of English, University of Illinois. Feb. 2000. Web. 18 Oct. 2010. <http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/s_z/sexton/sexton_life.htm>.

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