Dunbar, Paul Laurence

1903 TLS from one of the 1st major African-American poets written from a Toledo hospital

Price: $1295.00

Description:
(1872-1906) One of the 1st Black poets to gain national recognition, born in Dayton, Ohio, son of freed slaves. By 14, he had poems published in the Dayton Herald. In high school he edited a short-lived Black newspaper published by classmate Orville Wright. In 1892, he read his poems at a meeting of the Western Association of Writers and poet James Whitcomb Riley wrote him a letter of encouragement. In 1893, he self-published a collection called Oak and Ivy. Later that year, he moved to Chicago and befriended Frederick Douglass who found him a job and arranged for him to read his poems. By 1895 his poems began appearing in major national publications such as The New York Times. With the help of friends, he published Majors and Minors (1895), his 2nd collection. Poems written in standard English were called "majors," those in dialect were termed "minors”; the dialect poems brought Dunbar the most attention, William Dean Howells giving him a favorable review in Harper's Weekly. This brought Dunbar national and international acclaim, and, in 1897, he embarked on a 6-month reading tour of England. He also brought out a new collection, Lyrics of Lowly Life (1896). On returning to the US, Dunbar received a clerkship at the Library of Congress and soon married writer Alice Ruth Moore. While in Washington, he published a short story collection, Folks from Dixie, a novel The Uncalled, and 2 more poetry collections, Lyrics of the Hearthside and Poems of Cabin and Field (1899). In 1898, his health deteriorated and he left his job to dedicate himself full time to writing and readings. In the next 5 years, he produced 3 more novels and 3 short story collections. He separated from his wife in 1902, suffered a nervous breakdown and a bout of pneumonia. Although ill and drinking too much to soothe his coughing, he continued to write poems. His collections from this time include Lyrics of Love and Laughter (1903), Howdy, Howdy, Howdy (1905), and Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow (1905), which confirmed his position as America's premier Black poet. Rare but brief self-typed TLS on 6 x 8 ¼ engraved Toledo State Hospital letterhead, H. A. Tobey, Superintendent, Toledo, Ohio, May 28 1903, to Wm. Mather Lewis, “Illonois [sic] College”, Jacksonville, Ill. Dunbar has “…no objection whatever to your use of the poem in your college reader in the matter which you suggest.” Names of Hospital Board of Trustes engraved at left, following printed in red at bottom: “Visitors are admitted all days except Sundays and Holidays. Correspondence concerning patients should be addressed to the Superintendent.” WILLIAM MATHER LEWIS (1878-1945) Teacher, university president, government official. Mayor of Lake Forest, Illinois 1915–17, President of George Washington University 1923-27, President of Lafayette College 1927-45. He received a 1900 BA from Lake Forest College, a 1902 MA from Illinois College, and, later, a Ph.D. from the University of Berlin. He was briefly principal of Whipple Academy, Jacksonville (a preparatory school of Illinois College) before returning to to head the Dept. of Oratory & Debate at Lake Forest Academy for 3 years. He was Headmaster 1905-13. Lewis was field secretary of the US Navy League in the Mid-West in 1915, and, during WW I, was exec. secretary of the National Committee of Patriotic Societies. Lewis was director of the savings div. of the Treasury Dept. and chief of educational service for the US Chamber of Commerce 1921-23. He was director of the Penna. Selective Service System Sept. 1940-Nov. 1941. Lewis wrote “Selected Readings from the Most Popular Novels” (Hinds and Noble, 1903) and “The Voices of Our Leaders” (Hinds, Hayden & Elderedge, 1917). DR. HENRY A. TOBEY (1852-1908) Superintendent of the Toledo State Hospital for the Insane 1884-1906. He befriended Dunbar, and with a Toledo lawyer, provided money to publish Dunbar's 2nd novel, “Majors and Minors.” In 1894 the Toledo Asylum for the Insane officially changed its name to the Toledo State Hospital. It had 34 buildings, 20 of which were pavilions or “cottages” that housed “less extreme” insane individuals, while 6 buildings housed those considered more “critically insane” or “incurable.” The grounds also featured man-made lagoons, an administration building, a working farm, a library, an auditorium, a greenhouse, a chapel and other structures. Dr. Tobey became Dunbar's greatest patron, more than once loaning the struggling poet substantial sums of money. As Dunbar's health deteriorated after 1902, Tobey in particular expressed deep sympathy with Dunbar's worsening condition.

Condition: Very good, 2 vertical folds, one thru “a” of “Paul” in signature
Type:Letter






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