AALBC.com LogoCopyright © 1997-2017, All Rights Reserved — https://aalbc.com — troy@aalbc.com — Tel: 347-692-2522

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar photo

To possess the distinct writing voices of standard English of the classical poet and the evocative dialect of the turn-of-the-century black community in America, is an uncanny gift that set Paul Laurence Dunbar apart from even the great poets. Born in Dayton, Ohio in 1872, Paul was the son of Joshua and Matilda Dunbar, both natives of Kentucky.

Having heard poems read by the family she worked for when she was a slave, Matilda loved poetry and encouraged her children to read. Dunbar was inspired by his mother, and he began reciting and writing poetry as early as age 6. The only African-American in his class at Dayton Central High, Dunbar, rose to great heights in school. He was a member of the debating society, editor of the school paper and president of the school’s literary society. He published an African-American newsletter in Dayton, The Dayton Tattler, with the help of Orville and Wilbur Wright.

His first public reading, arranged by a former teacher, came on his twentieth birthday. His work often addressed the difficulties encountered by members of his race and the efforts of African-Americans to achieve equality in America. He was praised both by the prominent literary critics of his time and his literary contemporaries. An excellent illustration of his skill with dialect in poetry comes in, Negro Love Song:

Seen my lady home las' night,
Jump back, honey, jump back.
Hel' huh han' an' sque'z it tight,
Jump back, honey, jump back.
Hyeahd huh sigh a little sigh,
Seen a light gleam f'om huh eye,
An' a smile go flittin' by ''
Jump back, honey, jump back.
Hyeahd de win' blow thoo de pine,
Jump back, honey, jump back.
Mockin'-bird was singin' fine,
Jump back, honey, jump back.
An' my hea't was beatin' so,
When I reached my lady's do',
Dat I could n't ba' to go ''
Jump back, honey, jump back.
Put my ahm aroun' huh wais',
Jump back, honey, jump back.
Raised huh lips an' took a tase,
Jump back, honey, jump back.
Love me, honey, love me true?
Love me well ez I love you?
An' she answe'd, " 'Cose I do" ''
Jump back, honey, jump back.

Dunbar published his first collection of poems, Oak and Ivy in 1892. Dunbar’s second book propelled him to national fame. Dodd Mead and Co., combined Dunbar’s first two books and published them as "Lyrics of a Lowly Life.

Dunbar had a short-lived marriage to Alice Ruth Moore. He worked at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. It is believed the library’s dust contributed to his worsening case of tuberculosis. He died at the young age of 33 at his mother’s home in Dayton 1906.Frederick Douglass called Dunbar, "the most promising young colored man in America."

Dunbar Author Biography written by Scott Haskins author of Sasha’s Way

★ Are you the author? Let us be your primary web presence. Register your domain and link it here for free.

Tell us how much you like Paul Laurence Dunbar.

8 Books by Paul Laurence Dunbar

Vote for Your Favorite Black Author of the 21st Century
25 African Male Writers You Should ReadAfrican Men: 25 You Must Read

AALBC.com Bestselling BooksAALBC.com Bestselling Books

Printed: January 18, 2018, 9:14 pm
☆ Mission
To Celebrate Black Culture Through Literature and Literary Nonfiction to Readers of all Backgrounds and Ages; and Advocate for Independent Media

☥ About Us
Started in 1997, AALBC.com (African American Literature Book Club) is the largest, most frequently visited web site of its kind. More
Customer Service
Advertising Rates
Advertiser Login
Contact Us – FAQ
Give Us Feedback
AALBC on Pinterest AALBC on Facebook AALBC on Twitter
AALBC RSS Feed AALBC on Youtube Email AALBC