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Bertolt Brecht's poems to 'one of his great loves' come to fervent life

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Passionate love poems exchanged with the actor Margarete Steffin are to be read live in translation for the first time

In 1931 German playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht met a young actor, a woman called Margarete Steffin, with whom he was to become both intimately and intellectually involved. They met at a play rehearsal and she subsequently acted in Brecht's The Mother, then became a collaborator in his writing. Steffin typed up his work, corrected it, made suggestions, translations and drove him to greater efforts. In a late poem Brecht called her his "little teacher".

Steffin, who was from a proletarian Berlin family, could also supply for his political plays the details of real working-class life, of which the more comfortably raised Brecht had no direct experience. The composer and Brecht collaborator Hanns Eisler wrote of Steffin: "She was Brecht's most valuable collaborator. I have to say that Fear and Misery of the Third Reich the working-class scenes could not have been written without Steffin."

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