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


Full text of letter:

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July 4th 1895

Dear Mr. Sensitive Poet -

Papa, my “brother” Will and I have just returned from a fine stroll along the shore. Now don’t you wish you had been with us. The natural scenery here is so perfectly beautiful and I am as “horrid and despicable” now as I was on the day of our memorable stroll. With this beautiful scenery and my horrid and despicable self, I am quite sure you would have been inspired to say many and all sorts of unkind things to me.

I must confess, however, that I miss those unkind words exceedingly. Here with dear papa and a very few sincere friends and a thousand and one insincere flattering acquaintances, I hear and know not long but kind words and kind deeds. At times, I have wished you were here – just for a few moments – to say a few “delightfully unkind things.” They would at least have the charm of novelty. I think also that we fail to fully appreciate kindness unless we have the good fortune of knowing some

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one, like “Mr. Paul Laurence,” who takes delight in saying unkind things.

Will and I have a very pleasant room which I have converted into a typical cranky musician’s room. Of course the darling harp has a very prominent place near a window and Will’s Cello stands in an opposite corner. We have had music stands and innumerable stacks of music scattered about the floor in no kind of order. “Artistic Disorder.” The walls are very nearly covered with the photos of my dear friends and inspiring musicians. I have placed dear Edmund Schuecker’s picture directly opposite my harp and he seems to smile at me through his glasses when I play any of his compositions. That's inspiration for you!

I have heard something so perfectly lovely about your dear mother that I am quite anxious to meet and know her. I want you to give her my love although I do not know her. But please don’t tell her, as you have told me a thousand and one times, that I am

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so horrid, despicable, crazy, and provoking. I am going to Chicago July 22nd to play harp solos in a concert to be given at Quinn Chapel and you cannot imagine how miserable both papa and I feel about it. Papa’s engagements here are such that he cannot possibly go with me and I shall have to go all alone. It will be the first time in my life and I hope the last time. Papa says that it positively must be the last. I know you are sorry for me. Do write very soon as letters received here are doubly appreciated. Indeed the arrival of the mail is considered the event of the day.


“The horrid and despicable girl.”

Myrtle Hart

Thursday Afternoon


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