Skip to main content

The National Portrait Gallery is open to the public Wed - Sun, with timed-entry passes required for all visitors. On-site tours and events are currently suspended and all public programs will be online

Anne Sexton

Anne Sexton
Usage Conditions Apply
Rollie McKenna, 15 Nov 1918 - 14 Jun 2003
Anne Sexton, 9 Nov 1928 - 4 Oct 1974
1961 (printed later)
Gelatin silver print
Image: 34.3 x 26.5cm (13 1/2 x 10 7/16")
Sheet: 35.6 x 27.7cm (14 x 10 7/8")
Mat: 71.1 x 55.9cm (28 x 22")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Rollie McKenna
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
© Rosalie Thorne McKenna Foundation, courtesy Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona Foundation
Object number
Exhibition Label
Born Newton, Massachusetts
Anne Sexton’s poetry took up highly personal issues of white middle-class womanhood in the 1950s and 1960s, an era when conventional gender roles were being re-evaluated. Raw and confessional, her poems addressed female sexuality, mental health, and other subjects that were thought of as taboo. Sexton received many honors, including the 1967 Pulitzer Prize for her poetry collection Live or Die (1966). After spending much of her adulthood in and out of mental health treatment, by the 1970s, she began losing her fight against bipolar disorder. In 1974, Sexton died by suicide, her personal life echoing the last lines of “Her Kind,” a poem that compares a contemporary woman’s life to that of a witch: “A woman like that is not ashamed to die. / I have been her kind.”
This photograph of Sexton at her home in suburban Newton, Massachusetts, shows her in the writing nook she kept just off of the kitchen.
Nacida en Newton, Massachusetts
La poesía de Anne Sexton toca temas muy personales en torno a la mujer blanca de clase media en las décadas de 1950 y 1960, cuando se estaban reevaluando los roles de género tradicionales. Crudos y confesionales, sus poemas abordan la sexualidad femenina, la salud mental y otros temas que se consideraban tabú. Sexton recibió numerosos honores, entre ellos el Premio Pulitzer en 1967 por su poemario Vive o muere (1966). Luego de pasar gran parte de su vida adulta entre tratamientos psiquiátricos, en los años setenta empezó a perder su batalla contra la bipolaridad. En 1974 se suicidó, haciendo eco de los últimos versos de “De esas”, poema que compara la vida de una mujer contemporánea con la de una bruja: “Una mujer así no se avergüenza de morir. / Yo he sido de esas”.
En esta foto en su casa de Newton, un área suburbana de Massachusetts, Sexton aparece en el rincón que tenía para escribir junto a la cocina.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection