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Sexton, Anne Gray Harveylocked

(09 November 1928–04 October 1974)
  • Linda Wagner-Martin

Extract

Sexton, Anne Gray Harvey (09 November 1928–04 October 1974), poet and playwright, was born in Newton, Massachusetts, the daughter of Ralph Harvey, a successful woolen manufacturer, and Mary Gray Staples. Anne was raised in comfortable middle-class circumstances in Weston, Massachusetts, and at the summer compound on Squirrel Island in Maine, but she was never at ease with the life prescribed for her. Her father was an alcoholic, and her mother’s literary aspirations had been frustrated by family life. Anne took refuge from her dysfunctional family in her close relationship with “Nana” (Anna Dingley), her maiden great-aunt who lived with the family during Anne’s adolescence. Sexton’s biographer, Diane Middlebrook, recounts possible sexual abuse by Anne’s parents during her childhood; at the very least, Anne felt that her parents were hostile to her and feared that they might abandon her. Her aunt’s later breakdown and hospitalization also traumatized her....

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