Lonesome Dreamer


Lonesome Dreamer

The Life of John G. Neihardt

Timothy G. Anderson

336 pages
14 photographs


August 2016


$34.95 Add to Cart

May 2020


$24.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

August 2016


$24.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

August 2016


$24.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

American poet and writer John G. Neihardt (1881–1973) possessed an inquiring and spiritual mind. Those qualities came to the fore in Black Elk Speaks, the story of the Lakota holy man Black Elk, for which he is best remembered. Over the course of thirty years he also wrote a five-volume epic poem, A Cycle of the West, which told the story of the settling of the American West. 

Despite Neihardt’s widespread name recognition, the success of Black Elk Speaks, and a list of critically acclaimed books and poems, Lonesome Dreamer is the first biography of Neihardt in nearly forty years. Timothy G. Anderson describes Neihardt’s life from his humble beginnings in Illinois, to being named poet laureate of Nebraska in 1921, to his appearance on the Dick Cavett Show at the age of ninety. Anderson also delves into Neihardt’s success as a poet far from the East Coast literary establishment, his resistance to modernist movements in poetry, and his wish to understand and describe the experience of the Plains Indians. Offering insight into both his personal and his literary life, this biography reaffirms Neihardt’s place in American literary history, his successes and failures, and his unbreakable spirit.

Author Bio

Timothy G. Anderson has taught journalism at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and worked as an editor and designer for a number of newspapers, including the New York Times and New York Newsday.


"Anderson's biography of John G. Neihardt will be the definitive text for those who seek to know the real John Neihardt and his influence on American literature."—Becky Faber, Nebraska History

"The emphasis here is on John Neihardt as an artist, and Anderson succeeds in creating a thoughtful analysis of his vast, uniquely American output of poems, reviews, stories, and novels."—Greg Olson, Missouri Historical Review

"Anderson has made Lonesome Dreamer a gift of a book that should help us all feel a little less lonesome in our own living and dreaming."—Pamela Gossin, Western American Literature

"Lonesome Dreamer is a fascinating biography of the poet and writer offering new insights into his evolving attitudes that readers with either general or in-depth knowledge of Neihardt and literature about the West will appreciate."—David A. Smith, South Dakota Historical Society Press

“This is not so much an examination of one man’s life as it is an examination of life itself. For in this unflinchingly honest and compelling portrait of John Neihardt, we see recurring bouts of love, loss, delight, depression, triumph, and tragedy—and above all a relentless, searing search for truth in a life that spanned ten decades. So read it. Think about it. Discuss it. And learn from it. Tim Anderson has given us an immensely rich gift, a clean window into what it means to be human.”—Joe Starita, author of “I Am a Man”: Chief Standing Bear’s Journey for Justice 

“In the best tradition of western storytelling, this biography of John G. Neihardt is an inspiring exploration into the life and mind of a great American writer. This book accurately reflects the strong sense of spirituality that inhabits nearly every sentence Neihardt wrote.”—Ron Hull, friend of John Neihardt and producer of many Neihardt television programs for Nebraska Educational Telecommunications

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Prologue: January 8, 1881
1. A Heart-Breaking Farewell
2. A Voice Echoing in the Distance
3. A Big-City Adventure
4. A Sense of Alienation
5. A Powerful Endorsement
6. A Partner in Art and Marriage
7. A Fatal Row
8. An Untouched Epic
9. A Move and a Tribute
10. A Story That Needs No Embellishment
11. An Offer Declined and Another Move
12. A Pilgrimage to Pine Ridge
13. A Wise and Good Book
14. A Time of Crisis
15. The Loss of a Comrade
16. A Book and an Author Reborn
Epilogue: No Regrets

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