Lisel Mueller was born in Hamburg, Germany, on February 8, 1924, and came to the United States in 1939. She attended the University of Evansville in Indiana, where her father was a professor of French and German.
Her books of poetry include Alive Together: New & Selected Poems (Louisiana State University Press, 1996), which won the Pulitzer Prize; The Need to Hold Still (1980), which received the National Book Award; and The Private Life, which was the 1975 Lamont Poetry Selection, among others. She also published several volumes of translation, including Circe's Mountain by Marie Luise Kaschnitz (1990).
About Mueller's poems Rita Dove said, "The disingenuous lyric whose darker undertones reverberate long after we have floated on its sunlit surface.”
Her other honors include the Carl Sandburg Award and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. She taught at Elmhurst College, Goddard College, the University of Chicago, and Warren Wilson College. She lived in Lake Forest, Illinois and died on February 21, 2020.