Born in Saginaw, Michigan, in 1908, Theodore Roethke grew to love the natural world around him, and his passion for nature was a hallmark of his work. Roethke attended the University of Michigan and graduated in 1929; he entered Michigan Law School, but dropped out in order to study literature at Harvard. The Great Depression forced Roethke to leave his graduate program and take up teaching at Lafayette for four years. He also taught at Michigan State College, where he suffered the first of several mental breakdowns. His first volume of poetry, Open House (1941) met with great acclaim and established Roethke as a major American literary voice. Throughout his life, Roethke suffered from extreme mental stress and a number of physical breakdowns. Roethke’s work was praised by critics and The Waking Poems (1953) was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.