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


Full text of letter:

(Page 1)

Washington D.C.

Jan. 19, 1895

My dear Paul

If I had but your gift of expression then might I convey to you some adequate idea of the delight your letters afford me. Oh my friend, my friend! how fortunate you are in the possession of so rare and felicitous powers of expression! How easily words come to you and how polished and beautiful they

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come from you. I read your letters again and again – each new reading is a source of new delight.

I would have you always write much of yourself in your letters. I want to know your plans and all your successes – remember always that no subject is so interesting to me as yourself. I am delighted to know that you have been accepted by the Century. Please let me know in what number I can find

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your contributions. You spoke, or rather wrote, of two of your stories having been accepted by the Century, did you mean? I have never read any of your stories and am very anxious to do so.

I received a letter from E.E. Cooper, the editor of the “Colored American,” of this city, asking me for the address of the publishers of your poems. I immediately complied

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with the request. He wants to put your volume in his store. a store exclusively for the sale of literary productions of the Negro Race.

By the way, Paul, your later poems – have you combined them with the others and printed a new edition of your “Oak and Ivy”? I am eager to read them. I read and recite many of your poems for my friends. they are enthused over them.

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Dr. O.M. Atwood of whom you have perhaps heard, declares that he never liked dialectic poems until he heard me read yours. The Atwoods are Ohiaons; do you know any of them?

You asked me about Mr. Thos. Swann of Philadelphia. I have met him and think him rather clever, but none too reliable I understand. He has some influential friends I believe, however. Of course I

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would not say this to any one but you for I would not do the young man any injury. I got my information from an intimate friend of his. As I said before he has some influential friends. Is it through his solicitation that you are going to Philadelphia?

By the way, Paul, have you heard that Joe Douglass is going abroad to finish his musical education? He was given a “testimonial”

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last night by the citizens. It was well attended, and I think Joe will probably receive a hundred and twenty dollars or more which will aid him very materially in his preparations.

I wish I could write you a longer letter, dear, but tonight I can not. This is indeed a dull prosy missive, but I would have you read between the lines all the appreciation and devotions that my trite and common place expressions fail

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to convey.

Write me soon and tell me all about yourself.

Your ever devoted friend



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