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…

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Daigle, Jonathan. "Paul Laurence Dunbar". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 12 September 2005
[, accessed 29 September 2016.]

Related Groups

  1. African American Fiction
  2. African American Poetry