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

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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