BEHIND THE MASK:
An Evening with Paul Laurence Dunbar
directed by Ted Lange
Paul Laurence Dunbar
A Short Biography
Paul Laurence Dunbar was born in Dayton Ohio on June 27, 1872. His father, Joseph and Mother Mitilda Murphy Dunbar were emancipated slaves. He graduated from Central High school with honors. He also served as editor of the school newspaper and was the class poet. Unable to attend college, he obtained a job as an elevator operator and wrote poetry in his free time.
He published his first book of poetry, Oak and Ivy, at his own expense in 1893. His second book, Majors and Minors, was published two years later. Due to the success of Majors and Minors he was able to publish a third volume of Poetry in 1896, Lyrics of Lowly Life, which was printed by a major publishing company. This was his most popular volume. This book contained poems written in the dialect of Southern Blacks.
The success of this volume enabled Mr. Dunbar the opportunity to travel to England. Upon his return to the United States he was hired as an assistant in the Library of Congress. In 1898, he married Alice Moore, but they separated in 1901.
Dunbar contracted tuberculosis when he was almost thirty. He tried various cures, alcohol being one of them, and he became addicted. Sick and discouraged over the lack of success of Heart of Happy Hollow (1904), he returned to Dayton where he died on February 9, 1906.
Show Storyline - Behind The Mask: An Evening with Paul Laurence Dunbar
Roscoe Orman Biography
Director Ted Lange
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