"I want my epitaph to testify that I have been a loving mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend; and I have taught, written, and lived with joy."
— Penelope Niven
Praise for Carl Sandburg: A Biography

New York Times Book Review

A powerful and much-needed portrayal of a major American writer and social critic.

Chicago Tribune

Penelope Niven's life of Carl Sandburg is indispensible.

Washington Post

Wonderfully written . . . Like a brilliant performance of Othello, this autobiography is graceful, elegant and satisfying.

St. Louis Dispatch

An extraordinarily fine biography.

Chicago Sun-Times

Niven's groundbreaking work captures the epic sweep of Sandburg's life . . . with authority . . . and her examination of Sandburg's relationships with his wife and daughters is both sensitive and probing.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Niven has succeeded admirably in writing a book that should appeal to scholars and to general readers.

Publishers Weekly

Attacked though he may have been by some literary critics, Sandburg (1878-1967) captured in his rugged free verse the varied substance and rhythms of American life more fully, says Niven, than any poet of his time. He was a vagabond poet, a minstrel of democracy, a champion in verse and prose of the rights of the working class, his poems deeply felt rather than cerebral. Backed by the author's seven years of research, this major biography presents this son of immigrant Swedes in his roles as hobo, soldier, journalist, orator, socialist, biographer of Abraham Lincoln and poet. Freelance writer Niven covers his long, fruitful life, and his happy marriage to Paula Steichen, in elegant prose that captures the sweep of his development as poet and man. Her book is a fine achievement.

Library Journal

This excellent, comprehensive biography holds the reader fascinated despite its length. Based on 14 years' research that embraced more than 50,000 letters and papers and interviews with 150 people, this portrait captures every phase from birth to death of "the quintessential American voice." Considerable background material is supplied on the history of Sandburg's times and personal influences. Presenting the man and his accomplishments objectively, Niven quotes extensively from evaluations of Sandburg's work, both effusive and more critical. His fortunate marriage to Paula Steichen, sister of the photographer Edward Steichen, brought three daughters and a partner whose name was the last spoken word on his lips. One is left with the impression that his multi-volumed biography of Abraham Lincoln was probably his greatest achievement, at least the one that brought national fame and acclaim; however, his many other facets are carefully delineated in this labor of love and fine scholarship.