Sara Teasdale (1884–1933) was a lyrical American poet, the first woman to earn the Nobel Prize for Poetry in 1918. She also published under the name, Sara Teasdale Filsinger, after her marriage in 1914.
Sara was a sickly child of such poor health that she was homeschooled until she was finally well enough to attend school, at the age of 10. She began publishing poetry in 1907, both in her local paper and her first collection, Sonnets to Duse and Other Poems. Subsequent collections included Helen of Troy and Other Poems (1911), Rivers to the Sea (1915), and Love Songs (1917), which won the 1918 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
In her late twenties, Teasdale had several suitors. Vachel Lindsay was one of them. He loved Teasdale but declined to propose marriage, believing that he could never provide her with the type of financial security that would keep her happy. Instead she married an admirer of poetry, Ernst Filsinger, in 1914. They moved to New York City to inhabit an apartment on Central Park West on the Upper West Side. While her husband was traveling, Teasdale moved interstate for three months to satisfy the criteria to divorce. Without communicating her intent to her husband. He was only informed at her attorney's insistence as the divorce was in process. Filsinger was shocked and surprised but had no recourse. Teasdale than moved two blocks away and rekindled a friendship with Vachel Lindsay, who was now married with children. In 1933 she overdosed on sleeping pills.
While some speculate that the poem I Shall Not Care was penned as a suicide note, that is not true. The poem was published in 1915, eighteen years earlier.
Teasdale's 1918 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry is a landmark on The American Literature Timeline. You may also enjoy reading the works of Edna St. Vincent Millay, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1923. We feature both authors in our collection of Pulitzer Prize Winners.