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Edgar Lee Masters papers

 Collection — Box: 58
Identifier: MS-SC1010

Scope and Contents

72 letters to Edwin P. Reese discuss his writing, work on new ed. of Spoon River, Atlantis, Mirage and a book about his father. Also several mentions of Clarence Darrow and his work on the Leopold-Loeb case and his and William Jennings Bryan on the Scopes trial. He writes at length about Bryan in several letters. He also gives his opinions of Carl Sandburg, Theodore Dreiser and Amy Lowell. Occasional mention of politics and opinions of Calvin Coolidge. Occasional mention of his son, Hardin, his two daughters and his ex-wife, the "Chicago Medusa". Several mentions of "Lillie" and one letter from Reese to Lillian Jenkins asking her to return some of Master's belongings. Apparent references to Ellen Coyne are made as "my sweetie."

Also includes 19 poems by Masters, some unpublished. Several satirical letters. Some news clippings, cartoons and pamphlets. Five letters to George Sylvester Vierick. In one he gives his opinion of Vierick's books on U.S. intervention in totalitarian states. In another, Jan. 3, 1942, he declines to be a character witness for Vierick.


  • Created: 1924 - 1942


Biographical / Historical

Poet and author of Spoon River Anthology, first published in 1915, as well as numerous other poems, plays and books grew up in Petersburg, Illinois and moved with his family to Lewistown, Ill. where he read for the law and became a lawyer. He married Helen Jenkins of Chicago in 1898 and went to work with Clarence Darrow. He and Helen had three children. He met Lillian Wilson, a rich widow, in 1919 and had a long affair with her. He and Helen divorced in 1923 and he moved to New York. In 1926 he married Ellen Coyne. He remained lifelong friends with Edwin P. Reese of Lewistown and then Chicago. He was also acquainted with many writers, including George Sylvester Vierick, who was accused of anti-semitism during WWII.


6 folders (3 linear inches (.25 linear feet)) : 112 items

Language of Materials