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Spoon River Anthology

Edgar Lee Masters


Spoon River Anthology is a collection of short poems that reveals the true nature of the citizens of a fictional small town in Illinois. Each poem is a candid autobiography of a now-deceased resident that lies in the Oak Hill Cemetery—often exposing their darkest secrets.

Edgar Lee Masters was raised in Lewistown, Illinois and based these stories on the gossip he heard there. The book was a commercial success, but was banned from schools and libraries in the area due to the real-life citizens knowing exactly whom each poem was written about. As the years have passed and more generations now lie in Oak Hill Cemetery, Lewistown has forgiven Masters, and he’s now celebrated there.

The poems were originally published in the literary magazine Reedy’s Mirror under the pseudonym Webster Ford. The first book edition was published in 1915 and contained 209 poems. Masters added 35 new poems, including the epilogue, for the 1916 edition, which is the edition that this Standard Ebooks edition is based on.

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