PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR
Born June 27th, 1872 in Dayton, Ohio
One of the first African American Poets to gain recognition, nationally.
Parents: Joshua and Matilda Murphy Dunbar
Freed from slavery in Kentucky
Separated after his birth (father escaped slavery and mother stayed)
Early success with publications with Dayton Herald at the age of 14
Dunbar was president of the literary society and edited a short lived African American newspaper while attending high school
After High School, Dunbar was not financially able to attend college
First job being an elevator operator as a result
He received support from former teachers and popular poets, such as James Whitcomb Riley, which later helped land him on the radar.
In 1893, Dunbar self published a collection of poems entitled Oak and Ivy
Dunbar sold this book to patrons riding his elevator during the time to help with publishing costs
Moved to Chicago in 1893
Became friends with Fredrick Douglass
Douglass helped get Dunbar a job as a clerk
By 1895, Dunbar’s poems began to appear in popular newspapers and magazines, such as the New York Times and Harper’s Weekly
In 1895, Dunbar released his second collections of works entitled Majors and Minors
Poems in English were called “majors” and ones in negro dialect were called “minors”
This release granted Dunbar national and international recognition
In 1896, Dunbar released a third collection entitled Lyrics of Lowly Life
In 1897, Dunbar went on a six month reading tour of England
After returning to America, the Liberty of Congress in Washington, DC, offered Dunbar a clerkship in which he took.
Married writer Alice Ruth Moore in 1898
In 1899, Dunbar released two more collections entitled: Lyrics of the Hearthside and Poems of Cabin and Field
Following his release in 1899, Dunbar developed Tuberculosis and decided to leave his current job due to unsafe conditions.
Dunbar then decided to dedicate himself to writing full-time