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July 27, 1975: Poet Anne Spencer Dies at 93

Anne Spencer
E-WV, The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Poet Anne Spencer died on July 27, 1975, at age 93. Born Annie Bethel Bannister in Virginia, she and her mother moved to Bramwell in Mercer County, West Virginia when Anne was three years old.

During her childhood and adolescent years in Bramwell, she acquired a deep appreciation for nature as the surrounding countryside nourished her creativity and influenced her writing.

While attending the Virginia Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, she still spent her summers and holidays in Bramwell. After graduating, she returned to Bramwell regularly. Between 1899 and 1901, Anne Spencer taught school in Maybeury and Elkhorn in McDowell County before moving permanently to Lynchburg.

During the Harlem Renaissance, Spencer’s writing was discovered by the novelist James Weldon Johnson. In 1920, he published her poem “Before the Feast at Shushan” in The Crisis, the magazine of the NAACP. Spencer’s poetry was published in many magazines and anthologies, including the first edition of the prestigious Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry. Her poetry was praised by critics, including H. L. Mencken.

Anne Spencer continued to write until just before her death. Her last poem was titled simply “1975.”

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