The Poet and the Dream Girl

The Love Letters of Lilian Steichen and Carl Sandburg
Author: Edited by Margaret Sandburg
Lilian Steichen, Carl Sandburg, and a love story for the ages
Paper – $28
Publication Date
Paperback: 01/01/1999
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About the Book

"These letters reveal the thoughts of two fine, strong minds drawn to each other first by their interest in socialism, then by their love of poetry and a similarity of ethics and ideals. My mother recognized this in his early prose and poetry. They learned so much about each other from these letters, yet it seems extraordinary that there was so little personal contact."-- From the introduction by Margaret Sandburg

About the Author

Margaret Sandburg is the editor of Breathing Tokens, a collection of Carl Sandburg's poetry.


"The two have the heroic vitality of figures in a poem by Whitman. The wholehearted equality that comes rarely in most relationships seems to belong effortlessly to these lovers from the first. And what we feel is not amused, or contemptuous, or annoyed. What we feel is jealous."--Penelope Mesic, Chicago

"One may read and appreciate the book for its scholarship and the cultural insights it offers on the pre-World War One era, but I suspect that most readers will delight in the emerging and appealing love story of Carl and Lilian. In our rather nihilistic age, The Poet and the Dream Girl acts as a kind of moral and philosophical tonic, making one believe again in all the possibilities for art, love, and social reform so passionately and beautifully espoused in these pages."--Dan Guillory, Illinois Books

"Perhaps the finest collection of love letters in American literature."--John Hallwas, Jacksonville Journal Courier


"The letters of Steichen and Sandburg reveal their deep love for one another as well as their shared dedication to socialism. Most interesting is their very modern aspiration to unite both aspects into a genuine 'personal politics' of daily life. Students of American radical history will achieve rare insight into the arduous routine of the rank-and-file organizer. Scholars of women's history will locate a clearly articulated feminist desire for both intimacy and sexual liberation. Enjoyment is promised to all readers by the elegant prose and moving passages contained in this fine collection."--Mari Jo Buhle, author of Women and American Socialism, 1870-1920


Winner of an Outstanding Achievement Award of the Wisconsin Library Association, 1988.