Sanburg's biography

Sandburg led an interesting life.  Below you will find his biography of his life.  This will give you a chance to get to know Sandburg better and learn about his place within Chicago poetry.

   Carl Sandburg, born Carl August Sandburg, was born in Galesburg, Illinois in 1878.  His father was a railroad blacksmith and his mother worked as a maid in a Chicagoland hotel.  The Sandburgs were hardworking middle class people who had to provide for Carl and his six siblings.

   Carl Sandburg only attended public school until the age of 14, when he left the eighth grade and began to do small jobs around town.  At the age of 18, he embarked on his first trip to the city of Chicago with a pass he had borrowed from his father.  Within a year, he had joined the masses of railroad stowaways who traveled the Midwest looking for work.

   He then returned to Galesburg to join the military and serve in the Spanish-American War.  He used this as an opportunity to continue his education.  Because of his veteran status, he was able to enroll in Lombard College and receive free tuition, even though he had no formal education past the eighth grade.

   After college, he moved to Wisconsin where he worked for a number of years in various positions, such as being a labor organizer and journalist.  Like other notable writers and artists at the time, he was placed on Hoover's FBI watchlist because he was considered a "security concern."  Sandburg always figured it was because he was an idealist.

   In 1912, he returned with his family to the Chicagoland area and began to write for a number of literary magazines.  In 1914, he won the Levinson Prize, which established him as a new literary voice.

   Sandburg published his first major collection of poetry in 1916 with
Chicago Poems.  Readers viewed him as an idealist and full of joy of life.  In 1918, he embarked for a one-year stint as a foreign correspondent during World War I, which he later wrote about upon his return.

   In 1928, Sandburg moved to Michigan and spent a good deal of time traveling and acting as a poetry reciter.

   Sandburg published his most popular book in 1936, titled
The People, Yes.  This book expressed Sandburg's interest in Midwestern folk expressions and speech.  It was at this time that people were beginning to compare him to Walt Whitman.

   In 1939, he published the last volume of his Abraham Lincoln literature.  He was criticized for having incorrect information presented in it but he ultimately won the Pulitzer Prize for
Abraham Lincoln: The War Years.

   Seeking warmer climate, he moved to North Carolina in 1943, where he lived out the remainder of his life.  While living there, he wrote his only novel,
Remembrance Rock, in 1948, where he wrote and farmed for the remainder of his life.

   Sandburg died in 1967, but before passing away, he wrote…

"It could be, in the grace of God, I shall live to be eighty-nine, as did Hokusai, and speaking my farewell to earthly scenes, I might paraphrase: 'If God had let me live five years longer I should have been a writer.'"

Carl Sandburg in his 40's

Bibliography Click here for complete bibliography

"Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)." 2000.

Niven, Penelope. 
Carl Sandburg: A Biography.  New York: Maxwell Maxmillian
     International, 1991.

This website is a student project created for the University of Michigan's English 280 class.  Created by Chris Stallman