Dunbar, Paul Laurence

Dunbar, Paul Laurence

(dŭn`bär), 1872–1906, American poet and novelist, b. Dayton, Ohio. The son of former slaves, he won recognition with his Lyrics of Lowly Life (1896)—a collection of poems from his Oak and Ivy (1893) and Majors and Minors (1895). His humorous poems employing African-American folk materials and dialect were especially popular with the public, but Dunbar viewed them as a means of getting his other works published and came to despise them. Dunbar's other works include four novels, the best known of which is The Sport of the Gods (1902); four collections of short stories, notably Folks from Dixie (1898), in which he portrayed the lives of Southern blacks; and numerous song lyrics.


See his Complete Poems (1913); biographies by B. Brawley (1936, repr. 1967) and A. Gayle (1971); study by J. Martin, ed. (1974); E. Alexander, ed., Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow: The Tragic Courtship and Marriage of Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Ruth Moore (2002).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Dunbar, Paul Laurence


Born June 27, 1872, in Dayton, Ohio; died there Feb. 9, 1906. American Negro author. Born into the family of a former slave; worked as an elevator operator.

After the publication of his first book of poems, Oak and Ivy (1893), Dunbar became a librarian in Washington. He was the author of several collections of stories, the novel The Sport of the Gods (1902), and other works. He was the first Negro writer in the USA to gain wide renown. His most popular works were his poems written in southern dialect: the collections Majors and Minors (1895) and Lyrics of Lowly Life (1896). In poetry full of sincere love for his people Dunbar idealized the life of the plantation Negro. Nevertheless, some of his stories and poems protest against discrimination and terror.


The Best Stories. New York, 1938.
The Complete Poems. New York, 1940.


Bekker, M. I. Progressivnaia negritianskaia literatura SShA. Leningrad, 1957.
Brawley, B. P. L. Dunbar, Poet of His People.[New York, 1968.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Dunbar, Paul Laurence JUMP BACK, HONEY: The Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar.
Dunbar, Paul Laurence. The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar Ed.
Dunbar, Paul Laurence. The Best Stories of Paul Laurence Dunbar.
Dunbar, Paul Laurence. The Collected Poetry of Paul Laurence
Dunbar, Paul Laurence. "Appreciation." Dunbar, Complete Poems 247-48.
Dunbar, Paul Laurence. "The Strength of Gideon." The Strength of Gideon and Other Stories.
Dunbar, Paul Laurence. "At Cheshire Cheese." Lyrics of the Hearthside 121-22.