Langston Hughes

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Langston Hughes

During his lifetime, he was known as "the poet laureate of Harlem." What this meant, is that he was worthy of honor and he excelled in poetry. In addition, he worked as a journalist, dramatist, essayist, novelist, playwright, lyricist, and children's author during his life. This man’s name is Langston Hughes, however his full name is James Langston Hughes.

James Langston Hughes was born on February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri. Langston was still a baby when his parents separated, and his father went to Mexico. Hughes grew up and went to school in Lawrence, Kansas, where his grandmother helped bring him up. After she died, he and his mother lived in Lincoln, Illinois for a time. Shortly, they moved to Cleveland, Ohio. Langston attended Central High School in Cleveland, Ohio, but began writing poetry in the eighth grade. In the eighth grade, he was selected as Class Poet.

During high school, Langston’s father didn't think he would be able to make a living as a writer. His father encouraged him to pursue a more practical career. In 1921, Langston’s father paid his tuition to Columbia University in New York City, on the basis, he studies engineering. After a short time, James dropped out of the program with a B+ average.

During these times, he continued to write poetry. His first published poem was "The Negro Speaks of Rivers". This was also one of his most famous poems and it appeared in Brownie's Book.

Langston worked at various jobs, including that of seaman, traveling to Africa and Europe. His first book of poetry was, ‘The Weary Blues’, which was published in 1926. This book made him known among literary people. James went to Lincoln University in Oxford, Pennsylvania, on a scholarship. He received his B.A. degree there in 1929.

From then on James earned his living as a writer. 'Not Without Laughter', which was published in 1930, was the novel that won the Harmon gold medal for literature. He also took out a book of poems, in 1932 for children, called, 'The Dream Keeper'. Langston’s play, 'Mulatto' opened on Broadway in 1935. Also, he wrote the lyrics for 'Street Scene', a 1947 opera by Kurt Weill.

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