New York : Dodd, Mead & Company
born as: Paul Laurence Dunbar
American author whose reputation rests upon his verse and short stories written in black dialect. He was the first black writer in the United States to attempt to support himself by writing and one of the first to attain national prominence. - Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature [As important as Dunbar was, the claim that he was the first black writer in the U.S. to attempt to support himself by writing ignores several journalists, as well as the much earlier poet George Moses Horton, and perhaps other fascinating and lesser known figures. - BTC]
Collecting tips:Dunbar's first two books Oak and Ivy (1892) and Majors and Minors (1895) were both self-published in Ohio while the author was working as an elevator operator, which occupation became the genesis for his poem "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." Both were reportedly issued in editions of 500 copies, both were issued in variant colors of cloth, both are fragile and hard to find in nice condition, and both are expensive. His first commercially published book of poetry Lyrics of Lowly Life (1896), was championed by, and has an introduction by William Dean Howells.
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