Anne Sexton (1928–1974)

Poet, playwright, model, and author of children’s books. Born in Newton, Massachusetts, Sexton began writing poetry in high school. Sexton did not focus on her writing until 1957, however, when she enrolled in a poetry workshop at the Boston Center for Adult Education. Ten years later she won a Pulitzer Prize in poetry for her collection Live or Die (1966). For most of her adult life, Sexton suffered from depression and mental illness. Writing helped Sexton to maintain her sanity, apparently; but on her birthday in 1974, she committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning. (Of Sexton’s untimely death, her fellow poet, Denise Levetov, wrote that “we who are alive must make clear, as she could not, the distinction between creativity and self-destruction.”)