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Paul Laurence Dunbar, primary sources, Black history, Black poets, prominent Ohioans


Apparent draft of a letter to a Miss Coons regarding a written passage apparently shared without author's permission with the girls in the first- and second-year classes.

Full text of handwritten draft:

(Page 1)

Dayton, O.
Jan. 25th 1891

Miss Coons:

Herewith, I spend the correct lines, which I wrote to you.

I have rewritten them, not because I thought you cared to see them but out of justice to myself.

After rewriting carefully your action in making, of my miserable and most deplorable mistake public property. I am in some doubt as to whom an apology is due, whether to myself or you; But I am hoping that you will explain my case to the young ladies to all of whom you made known

(Page 2)

my blunder and before whom you placed me in a false light. If I can not entreat you to do this let your sense of justice compel you.

As I have before said, (and I hardly deemed the case one which requires a falsehood) no one saw or knew any thing about that poem except Arthur Nixon, until you showed it to Lydenburg. You asked every one if they knew any thing about it in such a suspicious manner, that they were inclined to affect a knowledge which they did not possess, in order to draw you on to tell what you knew, and they were in the majority of cases successful. I have not been so fool-

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-ish as to explore my own blunder, by putting that poem on exhibition, but if you desire it, you have only to say the word and I will go to any extreme to please you even to nailing it to a wall for public inspection.

(The phrase of this paragraph ending in “say” is circled in pencil with a note: “This is a falsehood.” The word “request” is underlined in pencil.) Of your action in making a request of an almost total stranger to you, I have little else to say, than that it was an unwarranted liberty, and I cannot but regret that I did not make this answer sooner, indeed before I thought of writing any “poem.” Then there could have been no chance for a “mixture” and the consequent annoyance which it has caused both of us.

(Page 4)

I hope you will not be offended if I have tried to be very frank and plain with you and it is my earnest hope that you will feel as much pleasure in showing this letter to your confidential friends i.e. The whole first and second year classes, as you felt in showing the others.

In equal indignation
Paul L. Dunbar


Primary Item Type

Personal Correspondence


This item is part of the Paul Laurence Dunbar House collection at Ohio History Connection, Columbus, Ohio. The collection contains items from 219 N. Summit St., Dayton, Ohio (later 219 N. Paul Laurence Dunbar St.), the home Dunbar purchased for his mother, Matilda J. Dunbar, in 1904. Paul Laurence Dunbar lived there until his death in 1906; Matilda lived there until her death in 1934. It is now the Paul Laurence Dunbar House Historic Site, part of the National Park Service.


Paul Laurence Dunbar, primary sources, Black history, Black poets, prominent Ohioans