Paul Laurence Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio, USA
Death 9 Feb 1906 (aged 33)
Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio, USA
Burial Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio, USA
Plot Section 101, Lot 3465
Memorial ID 307 · View Source
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Poet. Born in Dayton, Ohio, the son of former slaves from Kentucky, he went on to become one of the first nationally-renowned African-American poets. His father Joshua, an escaped slave who served in the Civil War, left the family in 1874. His mother Matilda supported the family as a washerwoman, even working for the Wright family; Orville Wright went to school with young Paul. His mother loved poetry and encouraged him to read. He was the only African-American in his high school class. He joined the debate team, edited the school paper, and served as president of the literary society. While struggling as a writer and journalist, he worked as an elevator operator in Dayton. With the help of the Wright brothers, he published his own newsletter, "The Dayton Tattler", intended for an African-American audience. With the help of a former teacher, he gave his first public poetry reading on his birthday in 1892. A journalist was impressed enough that he published a letter of praise in various newspapers, garnering significant national attention for the young poet. He published his first book of poems, "Oak and Ivy", in 1892. A year later, he spoke at the World's Fair and met Frederick Douglass, who called him "the most promising young colored man in America." He moved to Toledo, Ohio the same year and published his second book, "Majors and Minors." The book was a success, prompting further publications, and he was invited to present poetry in England. After returning, he married a young writer and teacher named Alice Ruth Moore. He took a job at the Library of Congress in Washington for a short time but soon he and his wife separated. He died of tuberculosis at age 33 after publishing a dozen books, including novels and plays. His poetry combines an interest in traditional poetic styles of the Old World with a more modern African-American dialect and voice. His varied poetic voice made his work appeal to all Americans, black and white, scholars and general readers alike.

Bio by: Midnightdreary

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 307
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Paul Laurence Dunbar (27 Jun 1872–9 Feb 1906), Find a Grave Memorial no. 307, citing Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum, Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .