Anne Sexton Biography: Sexton was born in Newton, Massachusetts, and spent most of her life near Boston. In 1945, Sexton began attending a boarding school, Rogers Hall, in Wayne, Michigan. For a time as a young woman, she modeled at Boston's Hart Agency. She eloped in 1948 with Alfred Muller Sexton, known as 'Kayo.' Before their divorce in the early 1970s, she had two children with Kayo: Linda Gray Sexton, later a novelist and memoirist, and Joyce Sexton.
Sexton spoke candidly about her battle with depression, which she fought for most of her life. Her first breakdown took place in 1954. After a second breakdown in 1955, she met Dr. Martin Orne at Glenside Hospital, who encouraged her to take up poetry, and she enrolled in her first poetry workshop, with John Holmes as the instructor.
After the workshop, Sexton experienced remarkably quick success with her poetry, with her poems accepted by The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, and the Saturday Review.
Sexton's poetic life was further encouraged by her mentor, W.D. Snodgrass, whose poem, 'Heart's Needle' encouraged her to write 'The Double Image, ' a poem significant in expressing the multi-generational relationships existing between mother and daughter.
While working with Holmes, Sexton encountered Maxine Kumin, with whom she became good friends throughout the rest of her life. Kumin and Sexton rigorously critiqued each other's work, and wrote four children's books together.
She attended a poetry workshop with Sylvia Plath, taught by Robert Lowell in 1957. Later, Sexton herself taught workshops at Boston College, Oberlin College, and Colgate University.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the manic elements of Sexton's illness began to affect her career. She still wrote and published work and gave readings of her poetry. She also collaborated with some musicians who were working to put some of her prose to music.
Sexton is the modern model of the confessional poet. She was inspired by the publication of Snodgrass' 'Heart's Needle.'
Sexton helped open the door not only for female poets, but for female issues; Sexton wrote about menstruation, abortion, masturbation, then adultery before such issues were even topics for discussion, helping redefine the boundaries of poetry.
The title for her eighth collection of poetry, The Awful Rowing Toward God, came from her meeting with a Roman Catholic priest who, although he refused to administer the last rites, did tell her: 'God is in your typewriter, ' which gave the poet the desire and willpower to continue living and writing for some more time.
After several attempts, Sexton committed suicide by inhaling carbon monoxide in 1974.
She is buried at Forest Hills Cemetery & Crematory in Jamaica Plain, Boston, Massachusetts.