About the author

John G. Neihardt

John G. Neihardt

Eleven-year-old John Neihardt moved to Wayne, Nebraska in 1892 with his mother and two sisters. He'd already lived in Illinois, in a sod house in northwestern Kansas, and in the Missouri River town of Kansas City.

This exposure to the richness and variety of life on the plains obviously shaped the direction of his life work. But Neihardt himself pointed to a "fever dream" he had at this age, in which he saw himself floating through space and felt the presence of a "spirit brother," as the event that determined his life work as a poet and inspired the content of that work.

Neihardt graduated from Wayne Normal College at six-teen and taught country school for a short time. He'd been writing poetry since age twelve and, upon moving to Bancroft in 1900, turned to that vocation, working also as an owner-editor of the Bancroft Blade, and as a clerk for a trader on the Omaha Reservation.

His acquaintance with the Omaha and Winnebago Indians led him to an interest in the Sioux, their customs and traditions. He traveled the plains and lived the land first hand.

He became a published author at nineteen… married at twenty-seven… started his major work, The Cycle of the West at thirty-one… and became Nebraska's Poet Laureate at forty. At forty-five he was literary editor for the St. Louis Post Dispatch, and at sixty-eight became poet-in-residence and lecturer in English at the University of Missouri.

In his eighties, Neihardt returned to Nebraska, living with friends and continuing his writing and personal appearances. He was working on the second volume of his autobiography when he died at age ninety-two. He accumulated many honors and accolades for a lifetime of contributions. He is fondly remembered by people of all ages in myriad ways.

Source: The Neihardt State Historic Site neihardtcenter.org
Image Source: John G. Neihardt Papers, John G. Neihardt Center, Bancroft, NE. Used by permission of the Neihardt Trust.