Springfield Public Schools - Home

Lawrence Education Center

101 East Laurel
Springfield, IL 62704
camera iconBack to Photos

Spoon River Anthology

November 2, 2006

Oak Hill Cemetary is located in Lewistown, Illinois. It is where Edgar Lee Masters wrote about the characters in the Spoon RiverAnthology. All pictures were either taken by Michele Romence or Meredith Mudd during June 2002.

The following excerpt has been used in complience with the principle is known as copyleft.
Spoon River Anthology
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Spoon River Anthology (1915), by Edgar Lee Masters, is a collection of unusual, short, free-form poems that collectively describe the life of the fictional small town of Spoon River, named after the real Spoon River that ran near Masters' hometown. The collection includes two hundred and twelve separate characters, all providing two-hundred forty-four soliloquies.

Each poem is an epitaph of a dead citizen, delivered by the dead themselves. They speak about the sorts of things one might expect. Some recite their histories and turning points, others make observations of life from the outside, and petty ones complain of the treatment of their graves, while few tell how they really died. Speaking without reason to lie or fear of the consequences, they construct a picture of life in their town that's shorn of all facades. The interplay of various villagers ” e.g. a bright and successful man crediting his parents for all he's accomplished, and an old woman weeping because he is secretly her illegitimate child ” forms a gripping, if not pretty, whole.

The subject of afterlife receives only the occasional brief mention, and even those seem to be contradictory.

The work features such characters as Tom Merritt, Amos Sibley, Carl Hamblin, Fiddler Jones and A.D. Blood. Many of the characters that make appearances in Spoon River Anthology were based on real people that Masters knew or heard of in the two towns in which he grew up, Petersburg and Lewistown, Illinois. Most notable is Ann Rutledge, regarded in local legend to be Abraham Lincoln's early love interest though there is no actual proof of such a relationship. Rutledge's grave can still be found in a Petersburg cemetery, and a tour of graveyards in both towns reveals most of the surnames that Masters applied to his characters.

Other local legends assert that Masters' fictional portrayal of local residents, often in unflattering lights, created a lot of embarrassment and aggravation in his hometowns. This is offered as an explanation for why he chose not to settle down in Lewistown or Petersburg later in his adult life; though, this too lacks actual proof.

Wikipedia content can be copied, modified, and redistributed so long as the new version grants the same freedoms to others and acknowledges the authors of the Wikipedia article used (a direct link back to the article satisfies our author credit requirement)