For the last twenty-three years of his life Carl Sandburg, Illinois native and one of America’s most versatile writers, lived at Flat Rock. There he wrote Always the Young Strangers, a memoir; Remembrance Rock, a novel; and several volumes of poetry. For his Complete Poems, published in 1950, Sandburg won the Pulitzer Prize, his second. He also won a Pulitzer in history in 1939 for his six-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln. In 1955 he condensed his million-and-a-half words on Lincoln into a single volume.
Original Date Cast:
Born in Galesburg, Illinois, to Swedish immigrants in 1878, Sandburg worked as an advertising writer, journalist, lecturer, and socialist organizer before publishing Chicago Poems in 1916, a volume which contained, in addition to the title verse, perhaps his best-known poem, “Fog.” Sandburg never enjoyed the success with critics that he found with the general reading public.
In 1945 Sandburg’s wife Paula, in search of a home in a more temperate clime than the Midwest and with pasture for her prize-winning goats, found such a place in North Carolina. The couple purchased a 245-acre farm called “Connemara,” which had once belonged to the Confederacy’s Secretary of the Treasury C. G. Memminger. They shipped their 21 tons of belongings to Flat Rock by freight car late in 1945. In his later years Sandburg relished his status as a literary celebrity. He and his rival Robert Frost were intimates of Pres. John F. Kennedy. In 1959 Sandburg became the first private citizen in eighty-five years to address a joint session of the United States Congress, in observance of the 150th anniversary of Pres. Abraham Lincoln’s birth. Sandburg died on July 22, 1967, at age eighty-nine. In 1968 the National Park Service made “Connemara” a National Historic Site and in 1974 the house, complete with many of the author’s personal effects, was opened to the public.
Penelope Niven, Carl Sandburg: A Biography (1991)
Paula Steichen, My Connemara (1969)
Edward R. Murrow and Fred W. Friendly, eds., See It Now (1955)
Gay Wilson Allen, “Carl Sandburg,” in Leonard Unger, ed., American Writers: A Collection of Literary Biographies (1974), III, 575-598
James D. Hart, ed., The Oxford Companion to American Literature (1983)
Harry Golden, Carl Sandburg (1961)