1915: Edgar Masters Writes Spoon River Anthology and William Masters is Born

The study of human sexuality had been mostly in the hands of poets, artists and lovers until William Masters and Virgina Johnson, using EKGs, ECGs, cinematography and all manners of probes brought the study of sexuality to a scientific place with their landmark work Human Sexual Inadequacy in 1970. Edgar Masters was born in a small town in Illinois, and was a fairly prolific although not well recognized writer until his Spoon River Anthology, a poetical set of musings from townspeople set in a town not unlike his own beyond the graves. In some of the original poems of the Spoon River Anthology, The Hill, Kate, a 'simple soul' is said to have died of a 'thwarted love.' Louise Smith let her "love turn to hatred" as she refused to let it flower, but poisoned it. Mrs. Merritt thought she "maddened her nineteen year old lover's brain with the gift of her body" and he killed her husband. So after some 50 years of some of those echoing poems in rural Illinois, the Masters team brought science to near by St. Louis with their model of the female sexual response, by opening a clinic for the scientific study of sexuality as well as counseling couples. In fact the common thread these two Masters men found those many years apart on the prairie: it's the relationships that breakdown. Sexuality usually cannot function well in a turbulent setting.  Forty years after the publication of their main book they are still regarded as an accurate representation of sexual response. What has been expanded upon is how the response is triggered. Women are not always "ready", but need the triggers.And that's where the next set of researchers took off.


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