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Paul Laurence Dunbar - Literary Analysis

Who is PL?
What's Going on in the Late 1800's?
We Wear the Mask by P.L. Dunbar
Our Personal Interpretations
Rhyme Scheme & Meter
Photo Gallery
Background Info - We Wear the Mask
Figurative Language & Theme
Contact Us

Who is PL?

Paul Laurence Dunbar - African American Poet
June 27, 1872 - February 9, 1906

Parents: Josh and Matilda Dunbar
             Josh - escaped slavery and served in the Civil War
             Matilda - former slave
Siblings: One biological and two step siblings.
High school: Dayton Central High school.  Paul, the only black in his class, became class president, an editor of the The High School Times, and wrote the class song.
Jobs: Elevator operator, writer, and reciter.
Married: Alice Ruth Moore, a young writer with a masters degree from Cornell University.

Separated: in 1902. This apparently caused PL to have dependence on alcohol and further damaged health.

Began reciting poetry at age 6

PL and the Wright brothers grew up together

June 27, 1892 his first public reading

His writing was recognized by James Whitcomb Riley

1893 he was invited to recite at Worlds Fair met Frederick Douglass who called Dunbar "the most promising young colored man in America."

1897 Traveled to England London literary circuit and became sick with tuberculosis.

Work appeared in: Harpers Weekly, Sunday Evening Post, Denver Post, Current Literature


12 books of poetry, 4 books of short stories, a play, and 5 novels

Oak and Ivy, a book of poems, in 1892

Majors and Minors

Oak and Ivy and Majors and minors combined and published into Lyrics of a Lowly Life

The Uncalled (1898)

The Love of Landry (1900)

The Fanatics (1901)

The Sport of Gods (1902)

The Heart of Happy Hollow (1904) short stories

Lyrics of Love and Sunshine (1905) short stories

The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar (1913; still in print)

Website Credits: ; . This content was put together by Krista M.