Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  John G. Neihardt  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Poetry

Born: January 8, 1881 in Sharpsburg, Illinois

Died: November 24, 1973 in Columbia, Missouri

-- John G. Neihardt on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Neihardt was born in Sharpsburg, Illinois and lived there until he was 10.

Biographical and Professional Information

Over the years, he was a professor of poetry at the University of Nebraska, a literary editor in St. Louis, Missouri, and a poet-in-residence and lecturer at the University of Missouri–Columbia.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

The divine enchantment: A mystical poem
ISBN: 0879681683

Gordon Press. 1974

A Bundle of Myrrh
ISBN: 1582017808

Classic Publishers. 0

Man-Song (The Collected Works of John G. Neihardt - 27 Volumes)
ISBN: 1582017859

Classic Publishers. 0

The River and I
ISBN: 0803283725

University of Nebraska Press. 1997

In 1908 John Neihardt (1881–1973) and two companions traveled the Missouri River—about two thousand miles—in a twenty-foot canoe. Originally published in Outing Magazine as a series of articles, The River and I describes their adventures on that wild waterway before it was dammed by the Army Corps of Engineers and points out storied sites along the shore. The result transcends journalism Neihardt does for the Missouri what Twain did for the Mississippi. This Landmark edition makes available once more the book that was issued in 1910, two years before Neihardt began work on A Cycle of the West and twenty-two years before the publication of Black Elk Speaks.

Life's Lure (Landmark Edition)
ISBN: 0803233337

University of Nebraska Press. 1991

Coming four years after The Dawn Builder (1910), John G. Neihardt's second novel portrays the lives of Black Hills miners and of those who preyed on them. Life's Lure takes up a theme that runs throughout Neihardt's work: the consequences of an inordinate desire for wealth.

The protagonists come in sets of three. On one hand there are Samuel Drake, a hapless thirty-year-old who has just squandered his inheritance in a Deadwood card game his fickle wife Joy and Louis Devlin, a smooth-talking, fast-fingered gentleman gambler. Devlin is not above talking about philosophy he even paraphrases Nietzsche. On the other hand are Monte Joe, a drunken scoundrel, Punkins, a young man fresh off the farm, guileless and easy pickings and Nellie, a mining-camp prostitute.

Women and gold lure men to go on living, but Fortune is "a capricious jilt." Neihardt puts a lot of colorful characters in motion and then, along with the reader, watches them collide.

The Splendid Wayfaring: Jedediah Smith and the Ashley-Henry Men, 1822-1831
ISBN: 0803257236

University of Nebraska Press. 1970

With the publication of The Splendid Wayfaring in 1920, John G. Neihardt sought to restore the reputation of a mountain man who went far in opening up the American West. The exciting narrative begins in 1822, when Smith ascended the Missouri River in the first fur-trading expedition of William H. Ashley and Andrew Henry, and ends in 1831, when he was killed by Comanche Indians on the Cimarron River. In the intervening years Smith became the first explorer to recognize South Pass as the gateway to the Far West, the first overlander to reach California and travel up the coast to the Columbia River, and the first white man to cross the Sierra Nevada and the Great Basin from west to east. The Splendid Wayfaring follows in novelistic detail the history-making adventures of Smith and his companions.

Black Elk Speaks: The Complete Edition
ISBN: 0803283911

Bison Books. 2014

Black Elk Speaks, the story of the Oglala Lakota visionary and healer Nicholas Black Elk (1863–1950) and his people during momentous twilight years of the nineteenth century, offers readers much more than a precious glimpse of a vanished time. Black Elk’s searing visions of the unity of humanity and Earth, conveyed by John G. Neihardt, have made this book a classic that crosses multiple genres. Whether appreciated as the poignant tale of a Lakota life, as a history of a Native nation, or as an enduring spiritual testament, Black Elk Speaks is unforgettable.

Black Elk met the distinguished poet, writer, and critic John G. Neihardt in 1930 on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and asked Neihardt to share his story with the world. Neihardt understood and conveyed Black Elk’s experiences in this powerful and inspirational message for all humankind.

This complete edition features a new introduction by historian Philip J. Deloria and annotations of Black Elk’s story by renowned Lakota scholar Raymond J. DeMallie. Three essays by John G. Neihardt provide background on this landmark work along with pieces by Vine Deloria Jr., Raymond J. DeMallie, Alexis Petri, and Lori Utecht. Maps, original illustrations by Standing Bear, and a set of appendixes rounds out the edition.

Indian Tales and Others
ISBN: 0803233183

University of Nebraska Press. 1988

Before Black Elk Speaks, before his epic poem A Cycle of the West, John G. Neihardt wrote many short stories that found favor with readers and critics. Among his best were the seventeen collected in Indian Tales and Others in 1926 and now available for the first time in paperback. "The Singer of the Ache," considered Neihardt's highest achievement in short fiction, portrays young Moon-Walker's quest for supernatural powers achieved at a price.

Other Indian tales include "The Look in the Face," one of many about a social outcast "The White Wakunda," about a Christ figure "The Mark of Shame," concerning murder as a violation of the natural order "Vylin" and "Mignon," moral fables about Indian-white marriages "The Last Thunder Song" and "Dreams Are Wiser Than Men."Other stories, set on the frontier, are "The Scars," "The Nemesis of the Deuces," "The Revolt of a Sheep," "The Parable of the Sack," "The Art of Hate," and perhaps Neihardt's most popular tale, "The Alien," in which a fur trapper makes a pet of a she-wolf, with unex-pected consequences. "The Red Roan," a ghost story, and "Beyond the Spectrum," about a man who may have stepped outside his body permanently, bring to a peak the strain of the supernatural that is apparent throughout the collection.

A Cycle of the West: The Song of Three Friends, The Song of Hugh Glass, The Song of Jed Smith, The Song of the Indian Wars, The Song of the Messiah
ISBN: 080323323X

University of Nebraska Press. 1992

A Cycle of the West rewards its readers with a sweeping saga of the American West and John G. Neihardt's exhilarating vision of frontier history. Infused with wonder, nostalgia, and a keen appreciation of epic history, A Cycle of the West provides an ideal introduction to the world of Black Elk Speaks.

Unquestionably the masterpiece of the poet who has been called the "American Homer," A Cycle of the West celebrates the land and legends of the Old West in five narrative poems: The Song of Three Friends (1919), The Song of Hugh Glass (1915), The Song of Jed Smith (1941), The Song of the Indian Wars (1925), and The Song of the Messiah (1935). This unforgettable epic of discovery, conquest, courage, and tragedy speaks movingly and resoundingly of a unique American experience.

When the Tree Flowered: The Story of Eagle Voice, a Sioux Indian (New Edition)
ISBN: 0803283636

University of Nebraska Press. 1991

"When the Tree Flowered is John Neihardt's mature and reflective inter-pretation of the old Sioux way of life. He served as a translator of the Sioux past whose audience has proved not to be limited by space or time. Through his writings, Black Elk, Eagle Elk, and other old men who were of that last generation of Sioux to have participated in the old buffalo-hunting life and disorienting period of strife with the U.S. army found a literary voice. What they said chronicles a dramatic transition in the life of the Plains Indians the record of their thoughts, interpreted by Neihardt, is a legacy preserved for the future. It transcends the specifics of this one tragic case of cultural misunderstanding and conflict and speaks to universal human concerns. It is a story worth contemplating both for itself and for the lessons it teaches all humanity."-Raymond J. DeMallie, editor of The Sixth Grandfather: Black Elk's Teachings Given to John G. Neihardt. "A warm and often moving piece of literature which can be appreciated for its literary value and for its insights into Sioux culture."-Richard N. Ellis, Rocky Mountain Social Science Journal. For more information on John G. Neihardt, visit

All Is But a Beginning: Youth Remembered, 1881-1901
ISBN: 0803283555

University of Nebraska Press. 1986

John Neihardt, celebrated for his cycle of epic poems about the American West and for Black Elk Speaks, was in his nineties when he wrote this engaging book about growing up in the Midwest. All Is But a Beginning describes the people and events instrumental in shaping his later distinguished career as a poet historian, and authority on Indians.

Patterns and Coincidences: A Sequel to All Is but a Beginning
ISBN: 0826202330

Univ of Nebraska Pr. 1978

The author, a poet and newspaper editor, recounts his experiences between 1901 and 1908 and describes the influence of nature and his Indian friends upon his poetry

Collected Poems of John G. Neihardt
ISBN: 031321025X

Greenwood Pub Group. 1978


  • The Nebraska State Legislature named him Poet Laureate of Nebraska and the Plains, a title he held for fifty-two years until his death