Edgar Lee Masters was born in 1868 in Garnett but grew up in western Illinois. His boyhood adventures in the Concord area would eventually shape his career in literature.
Early on, in 1893, Masters entered the field of Law and, 10 years later, came under the employ of Clarence Darrow "specializing" in defending the poor. It was during this time that he dabbled in writing plays and books of poems--all largely undistinguished.
In 1914, Masters started compiling poems of his childhood which would become the Spoon River Anthology which has been desscribed as a "series of poignant and often sardonic graveside monologues that capture small-town America, Midwestern values, and the angst of modern life." It stands as one of the most popular works in American literature.
Although he published numerous poems, essays and biographies over the next 30 years, none would reach the prominence of his former book. He was awarded the Poetry Society of America Award in 1941.