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A nne Sexton began writing poetry at the age of twenty-nine to keep from killing herself. She held on to language for dear life and somehow--in spite of alcoholism and the mental illness that ultimately led her to suicide--managed to create a body of work that won a Pulitzer Prize and that still sings to thousands of readers. This exemplary biography, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, provoked controversy for its revelations of infidelity and incest and its use of tapes from Sexton's psychotherapy sessions. It reconciles the many Anne Sextons: the 1950s housewife and mother; the seductress; the suicide who carried "kill-me pills" in her handbag the way other women carry lipstick; and the poet who made lasting art.

T o sample the biography, click on Excerpt. To hear Anne Sexton performing with her chamber rock group, "Her Kind," click on Audio. To explore ethical issues raised by the biography click on Controversy.

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