Anne Bethel Spencer in her wedding dress

Anne Spencer in 1900. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.


Anne Spencer
Born Annie Bethel Bannister
February 6, 1882(1882-Template:MONTHNUMBER-06)
Henry county, Virginia
Died July 27, 1975(1975-Template:MONTHNUMBER-27)
Lynchburg, Virginia
Ethnicity Black
Alma mater Virginia Seminary
Genres poetry
Literary movement Harlem Renaissance

Annie Bethel Spencer (February 6, 1882 - July 27, 1975) was an African-American poet, and an active participant in the New Negro Movement and the Harlem Renaissance.



The only child of Joel Cephus Bannister and Sarah Louise Scales, she was born Annie Bethel Bannister in Henry County, Virginia on February 6, 1882. Her parents separated while Annie was very young, and she moved with her mother to West Virginia, where she was placed under the care of William T. Dixie, a prominent member of the black community.

Sarah noticed her daughter’s quick abilities with the English language and sent her to the Virginia Seminary, where she graduated in 1899. Also in this year, she met her husband, Edward Spencer, whom she married on May 15, 1901(Citation needed).

Harlem Renaissance poet James Weldon Johnson helped to discover Annie’s talent as a poet, and also gave her the pen name of Anne Spencer(Citation needed).[1]

752px-Anne Spencer house interior Lynchburg Virginia

View of study, Anne Spencer House, Lynchburg, Virginia. Historic American Buildings Survey, Library of Congress, Call number HABS VA,16-LYNBU,85-3. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.


From 1903 until her death in 1975, Anne Spencer lived and worked in a home at 1313 Pierce Street in Lynchburg, VA. As an adult, Anne's poetry grew in popularity and meaning. The Harlem Renaissance allowed her to meet people like herself, who inspired her poetry through their ideas and artwork and eventually led to her work being published.

James Weldon Johnson and W.E.B. Du Bois were regular visitors at her house and would often spend the day in deep conversation discussing everything from art to politics. They all shared similar likes and dislikes and were all strong, independent thinkers.

Anne became more and more involved in her local community and the NAACP. Although most of her poems remain reflections of her own ideas and thoughts, hints of influence from her work with the Harlem Renaissance began to show.

Aside from her involvement in her community, Anne’s most important role was that of mother. Together, she and Edward lovingly raised their 3 children — Bethel, Alroy, and Chauncey Spencer.

She died at her home in Lynchburg.


After its 1923 publication in the Crisis, "White Things" was never reprinted during her lifetime. Nevertheless, its impact was such that Keith Clark, in Notable Black American Women, referred to it as "the quintessential `protest' poem." [2]


Some of her letters are held at Yale University. She was included in the Norton Anthology of Literature by Women. Spencer was the first Virginian and first African-American to have her poetry included in the Norton Anthology of American Poetry.

Anne Spencer House Museum and GardenEdit

Anne Spencer lived and worked in a home on 1313 Pierce Street in Lynchburg, Virginia, from 1903 until her death in 1975. The local chapter of the NAACP was founded from her home. A garden and a one-room retreat, where Anne did much of her writing, are also part of the property. Her papers are held at the Anne Spencer House, Lynchburg, VA.[3]



  • J. Lee Greene, Time's Unfading Garden: Anne Spencer's life and poetry. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1977.
  • Anne Spencer: "Ah, how poets sing and die!": A collection of her poems with commentary (edited by Nina V. Salmon). Lynchburg, VA: Warwick House, 2001.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[4]


"Neighbors," by Anne Spencer

"Neighbors," by Anne Spencer

45 The Wife Woman by Anne Spencer Anne Spencer Poetry Moment POEM

45 The Wife Woman by Anne Spencer Anne Spencer Poetry Moment POEM

29 Translation, Anne Spencer, from 37 American Poems POEM

29 Translation, Anne Spencer, from 37 American Poems POEM

See alsoEdit


  • Shockley, Ann Allen Shockley, Afro-American Women Writers 1746-1933: An Anthology and Critical Guide. New Haven, CT: Meridian Books, 1989. ISBN 0-452-00981-2
  • Howard Thurman, With Head and Heart: The autobiography of Howard Thurman Chicago:Harvest/HBJ Book, 1981. ISBN 0-15-697648-X
  • Anne Spencer House Museum and Garden [1] - African American Heritage of Virginia [2]
  • Anne Spencer: Ah, how poets sing and die! Ed. Nina V. Salmon. Lynchburg: Warwick House Publishing, 2001
  • Maureen Honey, Shadowed Dreams: Women's Poetry of the Harlem Renaissance (Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the Americas), Rutgers; 2 Rev Exp edition (October 25, 2006). ISBN 0813538866.


External linksEdit

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