illustration ©2011 Lance Tooks



Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872 – 1906), born the son of ex-slaves in Dayton, Ohio, became the first African-American to gain national eminence as a poet. He wrote his first poem at age six and gave his first public recital at age nine. Oak and Ivy, his first collection of poetry, was published in 1892. In 1893, he was invited to recite at the World’s Fair. There he met abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who called Dunbar “the most promising young colored man in America.” Dunbar’s work appeared in magazines and journals including Harper’s Weekly, The Saturday Evening Post, The Denver Post, and Current Literature. Although he lived to be only 33 years old, Dunbar ultimately produced twelve books of poetry, four collections of short stories, five novels, and a play. He also wrote lyrics for In Dahomey, the first musical written and performed entirely by African-Americans to appear on Broadway.

African-American Classics:
Graphic Classics Volume 22

144 pages, color, $15