Carl August Sandburg, 1878 - 1967

portrait of Carl Sandburg
National Park Service photo (ca. 1920)
955

Born: 6 January 1878, Galesburg, Illinois
Died: 22 July 1967, Connemara Farm, Flat Rock, North Carolina

Three-time Pulitzer winner Carl Sandburg showed little potential as a young man. He left school at thirteen to drive a milk wagon, then bounced from job to job in his hometown of Galesburg, Illinois, trying his hand at everything from hotel service to bricklaying to farm labor, even spending some time as a hobo. He joined the military during the Spanish-American War and was stationed in Puerto Rico in 1898, but was never called to battle. He entered West Point, but flunked out after only two weeks. He returned home to Galesburg and entered Lombard College, but left before getting a degree in 1903.

Moving to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he joined the Socialist Party, and when fellow socialist Emil Seidel became mayor in 1910, Sandburg was his secretary. Through his association with the Socialist Party, he met Lilian "Paula" Steichen in 1907, and they married the following year. Together they had three daughters. Marriage prompted Sandburg to seek a more stable income, and he took a job with the Chicago Daily News, where he stayed for several years.

His first book of poetry, In Reckless Ecstasy, was published in 1904 by a former professor and fellow socialist. In 1914, a group of his poems appeared in Poetry magazine, a nationally distributed publication, and his career took off. He wrote Corn Huskers in 1918, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. He wrote several more books of poetry, children's books, novels, an autobiography, and a biography of Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln: The War Years won him his second Pulitzer Prize in 1940. He earned his third Pulitzer for Complete Poems in 1951.

Sandburg resided in various areas of the Midwestern United States for most of his life, but in 1945 moved to Flat Rock, North Carolina with his wife, where he lived until his death.

Biography from Wikipedia and The Poetry Foundation

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