Interesting quotes by Paul Laurence Dunbar
“I hope there is something worthy in my writings and not merely the novelty of a black face associated with the power to rhyme that has attracted attention.”
“With our short sight we affect to take a comprehensive view of eternity. Our horizon is the universe.”
“Hope is tenacious. It goes on living and working when science has dealt it what should be its deathblow.”
A brief biography of Paul Laurence Dunbar
Paul Laurence Dunbar was born on June 27, 1872 in Dayton, Ohio. His parents were from Kentucky and were slaves prior to the Civil War. He wrote from an early age, and had his first poems published in a local newspaper by the age of 16.
Dunbar was the first African-American writer known internationally for his poems, novels, and short stories. He even wrote the lyrics to the first all-African-American Broadway musical, In Dohemy.
Paul gained national notoriety after being published in Harper’s Weekly, thanks to a glowing review by literary critic, William Dean Howells, who gave much praise to his poems written in dialect. Due to his poetical success, Dunbar was able to meet and befriend other prominent black figures of the time, including Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington and James David Corrothers.
Dunbar had a short career, but wrote prolifically—outputting a dozen poetry books, four books of short stories, four novels and a play. He was the first African-American writer to use white society as the focal point of a book, which he did in his novel, The Uncalled.
He was married to Alice Ruth Moore, a poet and teacher, on March 6, 1898. They moved to LeDroit Park in Washington D.C. when Dunbar landed a job at The Library of Congress in 1897. In 1900, Paul was diagnosed with tuberculosis and was prescribed whiskey by his doctors to help mitigate the symptoms. His wife and he moved to Colorado, being told the cold, dry mountain air would be beneficial for his condition. They remained together until 1902, when Paul nearly beat her to death. They never divorced, but remained separated after the incident.
Being apart from his wife and dealing with his illness led to depression, and Dunbar medicated himself by drinking heavily, which further damaged his health. Paul Laurence Dunbar died of tuberculosis on February 9, 1906, in Dayton, Ohio, at the young age of 33 and was buried nearby at Woodland Cemetery in Dayton.