image preview



Creation Date



Paul Laurence Dunbar, Ohio history, Poetry, dialect poetry, biography, black history, black poets, primary sources, prominent Ohioans


Full text of letter:

6 Columbia St.

Portsmouth, N.H.


Dear friend Paul:

I was most happy to receive your nice letter this morning, and I hasten to reply. I had almost despaired of ever hearing from you again. I have thought of you often and wondered how you were getting along. So you saw my poems in “Blue and Gray.” Well, your experience with that magazine is mine exactly. I sent “His Life” (as I originally called the poem) to the “B.&G.” long, long, long ago — so long that I cannot fix the date. In vain I awaited its return. Also in vain did I look for proof of its acceptance. The fate of my poor poem was unknown to me until I got your letter this morning! Such a fame! Neither have I ever been told by the editor of the acceptance of the verse, nor have I received a single coin for it, and I have never seen a copy of the magazine. I am going to writ a very sharp epistle to the individual in that editorial structure. I am well primed, and something will go off with a bang. Talk about the courtesy of the editorial class! Talk about their interest in aspiring writers! I wish you would tell me in what number of “Blue and Gray” my poem appeared. Then, should they not answer my letter as they did not yours, I shall know what number to procure. I am glad you enjoyed my little remembrance in the shape of the “Yule Song.” It was written by me when I first wooed the Muse. You say you have had many failures and few successes. That fit my case. Please tell me all about your progress. I have taken an ardent interest in my friend away out in the middle states, and I want to peep into his heart and let him look into mine, if thus he cares to do. You and I, Paul, are brothers in more ways than one. I love to think that, some future day, we may rise to be the representatives of poetry in the West and East of our country. Is it too bright a hope? I know you have great promise in you. I cannot say that of myself, but I do know that there is something in my heart that bids me on — on! No, the Muse is still faithful to me. I am writing poems continually. I saw one of yours in Munsey’s [magazine] some time ago, that I liked very much. I have not offered any poem to the magazines of late. I will name some that have been accepted: “Shell Song,” Youth’s Companion — $10; “Beneath the Birchen Trees,” Good Housekeeping ­ $2; “At Even Tide,” Sunday School Times, $5; “The Song of a Breeze,” Boston Transcript. “Shell Song” was the first I ever had found a market for. That was a year ago this Christmas of ’94. Now, Paul, I am going to broach a subject that has struck me strongly lately. I trust I shall not offend you by mentioning it. Am I presuming any when I say that I long for the time when we can issue a volume of our joint selections. Perhaps I am bold in wanting to couple your name with mine. You already have a reputation that is denied me, and I am well aware of the lower position of my muse when placed with yours. But I am sincere in the belief that it would be a good arrangement. I have given this much thought. I am anxious to get your idea of it. Can we not join hands and hearts on the title page of a dainty book? I will try to tutor my timid Muse so that she will present a creditable appearance when introduced to yours. Now will it be too much to ask you concerning the cost of your “Oak and Ivy?” What was the expense of its issue, and how has it been selling? My interest is a fraternal one. I take it for granted that you have not issued another collection of your verse yet. My name has yet to appear on a title-page. I am thinking, though, of putting my poetical thoughts in book form during this year of 1895. I would so delight in sharing with you the cost and labor of getting out a “partnership,” volume. I find that our fancy is much the same, and I am confident that we could offer a collection of poems not to be ashamed of. Please have something to say about this in your next letter. It is the one dear project of my heart, and I hope it will affect you favorably. To-morrow I will go to Manchester, this state, to resume my position on the reportorial staff of the “Daily Union.” For the past year I have been vacillating between work and vacation. This time I hope to make it a permanent employment. Mine will be a busy life (journalism), but I assure you I shall always be able to find time for a reply to your letters, let them come two and three a week! What have you been doing all this time, Paul, and what are you about now? Tell me all about yourself. Can’t you run on beyond Philadelphia when you come east? By the way, what about these readings? Write as soon as you consistently can, an address me: 50 Hanover St., Manchester, or: Daily Union. My Mother an father send kind wishes. “A merry New Year.”

With sincerity,

Walter LeRoy Fogg


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, Ohio history, Poetry, dialect poetry, biography, black history, black poets, primary sources, prominent Ohioans