Paul Laurence Dunbar (2585 words)

  • Jonathan Daigle (University of Hartford )

Widely hailed as the “black poet laureate”, Paul Laurence Dunbar was a prolific writer of dialect and standard English poetry, short stories, and novels. Considered by contemporaries to be the first successful black poet – a claim that reflects the then-obscurity of Phillis Wheatley – Dunbar occupied a historically unique space as part curiosity, part prodigy, and part ethnological exhibit. In fact, he was frequently cited as evidence of black cultural capacity at a time when many leading scientists relegated Africans to a lower evolutionary standing. Contemporaries recognized Dunbar as a key figure in a developing literary tradition, and the young stars of the Harlem Renaissance, including Countee Cullen and Langston Hughes, f…

Daigle, Jonathan. "Paul Laurence Dunbar". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 12 September 2005
[, accessed 25 October 2016.]

Related Groups

  1. African American Fiction
  2. African American Poetry