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Biography of Paul Laurence Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872 - 1906)

Paul Laurence Dunbar (June 27, 1872 - February 9, 1906) was a seminal African-American poet in the late 19th and early 20th century. Dunbar gained national recognition for his 1896 Lyrics of a Lowly Life. Born in Dayton, Ohio to parents who had escaped from slavery, Dunbar died from tuberculosis at 34.

Dunbar's father was a veteran of the American Civil War, having served in the 55th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment and the 5th Massachusetts Colored Cavalry Regiment. His parents instilled in him a love of learning and history. He was the only black student at Dayton Central High School, but he participated actively as a student. He wrote his first poem at age 6 and gave his first public recital at age 9. Dunbar's first published work came in a newspaper put out by his high-school friends, Wilbur and Orville Wright, who owned a printing plant. The Wright Brothers later invested in the Dayton Tattler, a newspaper aimed at the black community edited and published by Dunbar.

His first collection of poetry, Oak and Ivy was published in 1892 and attracted the attention of James Whitcomb Riley, the popular "Hoosier Poet". Both Riley and Dunbar wrote poems in both standard English and dialect. His second book, Majors and Minors (1895) brought him national fame and the patronage of William Dean Howells, the novelist and critic and editor of Harper's Weekly. After Howells' praise, his first two books were combined as Lyrics of a Lowly Life and Dunbar started on a career of international literary fame that was cut short by his death.

He kept a lifelong friendship with the Wrights, and was also closely associated with Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington. He was honored with a ceremonial sword by President Theodore Roosevelt.

He wrote a dozen books of poetry, four books of short stories, and five novels and a play. His essays and poems were published widely in the leading journals of the day. During his life, considerable emphasis was laid on the fact that Dunbar was of pure black descent, with no white ancestors.


Biography by: This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License and uses material adapted in whole or in part from the Wikipedia article on Paul Laurence Dunbar.


38 Poems written by Paul Laurence Dunbar

The poems are by default sorted according to volume, but you can also choose to sort them alphabetically or by page views.

Volume | Alphabetically | [Page Views] | Comments | First Lines


Page ViewsPoemComments
31354 Sympathy Comments and analysis of Sympathy by Paul Laurence Dunbar 177 Comments
14972 Life's Tragedy Comments and analysis of Life's Tragedy by Paul Laurence Dunbar 3 Comments
9509 The Debt Comments and analysis of The Debt by Paul Laurence Dunbar 3 Comments
8994 A Golden Day Comments and analysis of A Golden Day by Paul Laurence Dunbar 248 Comments
8948 The Lawyers' Ways Comments and analysis of The Lawyers' Ways by Paul Laurence Dunbar 4 Comments
8681 A Negro Love Song Comments and analysis of A Negro Love Song by Paul Laurence Dunbar 14 Comments
8119 A Choice
7872 Frederick Douglass Comments and analysis of Frederick Douglass by Paul Laurence Dunbar 2 Comments
7864 Ships that Pass in the Night Comments and analysis of Ships that Pass in the Night by Paul Laurence Dunbar 1 Comment
6570 If I Could But Forget Comments and analysis of If I Could But Forget by Paul Laurence Dunbar 20 Comments
5986 Encouragement Comments and analysis of Encouragement by Paul Laurence Dunbar 1 Comment
5181 Theology Comments and analysis of Theology by Paul Laurence Dunbar 2 Comments
5127 Douglass
4798 Accountability Comments and analysis of Accountability by Paul Laurence Dunbar 1 Comment
4283 Common Things
4255 To Dan
4235 The Unlucky Apple Comments and analysis of The Unlucky Apple by Paul Laurence Dunbar 1 Comment
3950 Summer in the South
3768 Signs of the Times
3706 My Little March Girl
3543 At the Tavern
3324 Howdy, Honey, Howdy
3202 The Barrier
3117 Old Comments and analysis of Old by Paul Laurence Dunbar 3 Comments
3009 Merry Autumn
2942 The Old Front Gate
1681 When Malindy Sings Comments and analysis of When Malindy Sings by Paul Laurence Dunbar 93 Comments
1378 Little Brown Baby Comments and analysis of Little Brown Baby by Paul Laurence Dunbar 65 Comments
1204 Encouraged Comments and analysis of Encouraged by Paul Laurence Dunbar 31 Comments
925 When de Co'n Pone's Hot Comments and analysis of When de Co'n Pone's Hot by Paul Laurence Dunbar 55 Comments
829 The Paradox Comments and analysis of The Paradox by Paul Laurence Dunbar 5 Comments
715 Confirmation
695 Song
459 Distinction Comments and analysis of Distinction by Paul Laurence Dunbar 2 Comments
417 We Wear the Mask Comments and analysis of We Wear the Mask by Paul Laurence Dunbar 277 Comments
335 Morning Comments and analysis of Morning by Paul Laurence Dunbar 32 Comments
285 The Made to Order Smile Comments and analysis of The Made to Order Smile by Paul Laurence Dunbar 1 Comment
122 The Haunted Oak Comments and analysis of The Haunted Oak by Paul Laurence Dunbar 66 Comments


Books by Paul Laurence Dunbar
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