Paul Laurence Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar

About Paul Laurence Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar was an African-American poet. He was born in June 27, 1872 in Dayton, Ohio and suffering from tuberculosis, he died at the age of 33 in February 9, 1906 in the same city. He wrote his first poem at the age of six and did his first public reading at nine. His first collection of poems, Oak and Ivy, was published in 1892 and attracted the attention of James Whitcomb Riley. Both Riley and Dunbar wrote poetry in standard English and African-American dialect. The second book, Majors and Minors (1895) brought him national fame and the support of William Dean Howells, writer and critic of Harper's Weekly. After the praise of Howells, Dunbar's first two books were merged into a single volume entitled Lyrics of Lowly Life. Folloing this publication, Dumbar began to be known internationally. He then moved to Washington, D.C. near Le Droit Park and attended Howard University.
He wrote a dozen books of poetry, four of short stories, five novels and a play. He also composed the lyrics for the comedy In Dahomey, the first musical comedy written and performed entirely by African Americans to appear on Broadway, in 1903; the musical was then staged on tour in England and America for more than four years, making it one of the most successful theatrical productions of the time. His lyrics and poems were frequently published in newspapers, appeared in Harper's Weekly, Saturday Evening Post, Denver Post, Current Literature and many other publications. During his lifetime, Dunbar was greatly emphasized that he was of pure black ancestry, without even a white ancestor.
After his return to America he got a job at the Library of Congress in Washington. There he met and married poet Alice Ruth Moore. When Dunbar fell ill with tuberculosis in 1898, he returned to Dayton and devoted himself exclusively to writing and reading. In 1902 he separated from his wife. His grave is in Dayton's Woodland Cemetery.

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