Wednesday, February 15, 2017
PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR (1872-1906)
was born in Dayton, Ohio, and attended the public schools of that city.
The son of two former slaves, JOSHUA DUNBAR, who escaped enslavement in Kentucky and fought in the Civil War, and MATILDA MURPHY DUNBAR, who taught the young Paul how to read, Dunbar himself, was never enslaved.
Dunbar published his first volume of poetry, "Oak and Ivy," in 1893.
He was steep in the oral tradition, and would go on to become a powerful interpreter of the Black experience in literature, essays, and poetry. These writings were militant by the standards of his day.
Dunbar gained international renown and popularized Black literature by lecturing and reading his poetry.
Dunbar published prolifically, over 400 poems, 4 novels, 4 collections of short stories,dozens of articles in magazines, song lyrics, musical plays and sketches.
His death in 1906 at the age of 35 followed years of declining health, including alcohol abuse and tuberculosis.
Paul Laurence Dunbar is one of the greatest poets in the Black tradition