Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) is one of the greatest writers of America history and in African-American culture. He excelled as a poet as well as a librettist, an arts collaborator, a social commentator, an academy co-founder and author. The only African-American in his graduating Class of 1890 of Central High School in Dayton, Ohio, he overcame barriers, including racial discrimination and tuberculosis, to compose more than four-hundred poems, four novels, four collections of short stories, lyrics for both a one-act play and a musical in a span of thirteen years!
Located in Dayton, Ohio, the Paul Laurence Dunbar House is the eight-room brick Victorian that currently serves as a museum. Paul bought this house as a gift for his mother, Matilda Murphy Dunbar. Paul spent the last three years of his life living at the home of his mother. Severely ill with tuberculosis and suffering from alcoholism as a byproduct of attempting to alleviate the disease’s symptoms, Paul and his wife, writer and activist Alice Ruth Moore Dunbar, had separated in 1902. His mother preserved the home, including the study and his bedroom, just as it was when Paul was alive. She also opened it to public every June 27th, in honor of Paul’s birthday. Matilda Dunbar remained living there for thirty years until she passed away in 1934. Dunbar’s widow, Alice, also preserved and protected Paul’s legacy until her passing in 1935.