Paul Laurence Dunbar

Image by Ohio Historical Society

Paul Laurence Dunbar

b. 1872 d. 1906

Come when the year’s first blossom blows, come when the summer gleams and glows, come with the winter’s drifting snows, and you are welcome, welcome.

About Paul Laurence Dunbar

Dunbar was one of the first African-American poets to be widely known and admired in America. His parents were freed slaves and Dunbar used some of their tales of plantation life in his work.

After a successful reading at the World’s Fair in Chicago, Dunbar’s poems were picked up by national newspapers and magazines. His second collection, Majors and Minors, appeared in 1895, with the ‘majors’ representing poems written in standard English and the ‘minors’ referring to his very successful dialect poems.

Dunbar’s fame spread, and he travelled to England to give readings. On returning to America, he worked at the Library of Congress in Washington DC and married the writer Alice Ruth Moore. However, his health began to deteriorate and, although he continued to be a prolific writer, producing several novels, song lyrics and further collections of poems, he died of tuberculosis in 1906, at the age of thirty‑three.