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Sexton, Anne

  • By: Cassie Premo Steele
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

Born to a wealthy family in Newton, Massachusetts, in 1928, Anne Sexton's early life looked—from the outside—like a version of the American dream. She attended a private high school, then married and settled down to take care of her house and to have children. After the birth of her second daughter, though, the illusion started to crack; Sexton became increasingly depressed, and on the day before her 28th birthday, attempted suicide. Soon after, at the suggestion of her therapist, Sexton began to write poetry. Years before other women poets would discuss the topic, Sexton's poetry presents a reading of motherhood that is at once spiritual, psychological, and historical.

From Degraded to a Larger Understanding

In Sexton's first two books, published in 1960 and 1962, the mother is ...

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