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Langston Hughes Biography
Transcript of Langston Hughes Biography
James Mercer Langston Hughes was born on February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri. His parents, James Hughes and Carrie Langston, separated soon after his birth, and his father moved to Mexico. While Hughes’s mother moved around during his youth, Hughes was raised by his maternal grandmother, Mary, until she died in his early teens. From that point, he went to live with his mother, and they moved to several cities before eventually settling in Cleveland, Ohio. It was during this time that Hughes first started to write poetry, and that one of his teachers first introduced him to the poetry of Carl Sandburg and Walt Whitman, both that Hughes would later cite as primary influences. Hughes was also a regular contributor to his school's literary magazine, and frequently submitted to other poetry magazines, although they would really reject him.
Langston Hughes Biography
Poet, Playwright (1902–1967)
In November 1924, Hughes came back to the United States and worked various jobs. In 1925, he was working as a busboy in a Washington, D.C. hotel restaurant when he met American poet Vachel Lindsay. Hughes showed some of his poems to Lindsay, who was impressed enough to use his connections to promote Hughes’s poetry and ultimately bring it to a wider audience. In 1925, Hughes’s poem “The Weary Blues” won first prize in the Opportunity magazine literary competition, and Hughes also was given a scholarship to attend Lincoln University, in Pennsylvania. While studying at Lincoln, Hughes poetry came to the attention of novelist and critic Carl Van Vechten, who used his connections to help get Hughes’s first book of poetry, The Weary Blues, published by Knopf in 1926. The book had popular appeal and established both his poetic style and his commitment to black themes and heritage. Hughes was also among the first to use jazz rhythms and dialect to depict the life of urban blacks in his work. He published a second volume of poetry, Fine Clothes to the Jew, in 1927.
A Continuing Life of Letters
In 1940, Hughes's autobiography up to age 28, The Big Sea, was published. Also around this time, Hughes began making a column to the Chicago Defender, for which he created a comic character named Jesse B. Semple, better known as "Simple," a black Everyman that Hughes used to further explore urban, working-class black themes, and to address racial issues.
Death and Legacy
Over the next 20 years, Hughes would continue his prolific output. In 1949 he wrote a play that inspired the opera Troubled Island and published yet another anthology of work, The Poetry of the Negro. During the 1950s and 1960s, he published countless other works, including several books in his "Simple" series, English translations of the poetry of Federico García Lorca and Gabriela Mistral, another anthology of his own poetry, and the second creation of his autobiography, I Wonder as I Wander.
Langston Hughes was born on February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri. He published his first poem in 1921. He attended Columbia University, but left after one year to travel. His poetry was later promoted by Vachel Lindsay, and Hughes published his first book in 1926. He went on to write countless works of poetry, prose and plays, as well as a popular column for the Chicago Defender. He died on May 22, 1967.
On May 22, 1967, Langston Hughes died from complications of prostate cancer. A tribute to his poetry, his funeral contained little in the way of spoken eulogy, but was filled with jazz and blues music. Hughes's ashes were put under the entrance of the Arthur Schomburg Center for Research in Black culture in Harlem.
his life is always remembered