ClassicsClassics
Image of Alice Dunbar-Nelson

Alice Dunbar-Nelson

1875 - 1935

In her early years, Alice Dunbar-Nelson was a teacher who went on to become politically active for both African-American and women’s rights. Alice was an American poet, journalist, and political activist. Among the first generation born free in the South after the Civil War, she was one of the prominent African Americans involved in the artistic flourishing of the Harlem Renaissance. She wrote a
Image of Anne Spencer

Anne Spencer

1882 - 1975

Harlem Renaissance poet and activist Anne Bethel Scales Bannister Spencer was born on a Virginia farm in 1882. The daughter of former slaves, Spencer’s mother enrolled her in school for the first time when she was 11, at the Virginia Theological Seminary and College (now Virginia University of Lynchburg). Six years later, Spencer graduated as valedictorian. Though she lived in Virginia her whole
Image of Claude McKay

Claude McKay

1889 - 1948

Festus Claudius "Claude" McKay (1889 – 1948) was a Jamaican writer and poet, who was a seminal figure in the Harlem Renaissance. He wrote five novels: Home to Harlem (1928), a best-seller that won the Harmon Gold Award for Literature, Banjo (1929), Banana Bottom (1933), Romance in Marseille (published in 2020), and in 1941 a manuscript called Amiable With Big Teeth: A Novel of the Love Affai
Image of Georgia Douglas Johnson

Georgia Douglas Johnson

1880 - 1966

A member of the Harlem Renaissance, Georgia Douglas Johnson wrote plays, a syndicated newspaper column, and four collections of poetry: The Heart of a Woman (1918), Bronze (1922), An Autumn Love Cycle (1928), and Share My World (1962)
Image of James Weldon Johnson

James Weldon Johnson

1871 - 1938

James Weldon Johnson, who was a talented American poet and novelist, made a name for himself as a man of letters and as a civil rights leader in the early decades of the 20th century. He is credited with bringing a new standard of artistry and realism to black literature.
He was head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People during the 1920s and helped remove the legal
Image of Jean Toomer

Jean Toomer

1894 - 1967

Jean Toomer (1894 – 1967) was an American poet and novelist commonly associated with the Harlem Renaissance and modernism. His reputation stems from his novel, Cane (1923), which Toomer wrote during and after a stint as principal at a black school in Sparta, Georgia. Sociologist Charles S. Johnson called the novel "the most astonishingly brilliant beginning of any Negro writer of his
Image of Joshua Henry Jones, Jr.

Joshua Henry Jones, Jr.

d. 1955

Joshua Henry Jones, Jr. was born in Orangeburg, South Carolina. He published both prose and poetry, including Poems of Four Seas (1921) and By Sanction of Law (1924). Jones died on December 14, 1955, in Boston.
Image of Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes

1901 - 1967

Langston Hughes was a central figure in the Harlem Renaissance. He sought to honestly portray the joys and hardships of working-class black lives, avoiding both sentimental idealization and negative stereotypes. As he wrote in his essay “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain,” “We younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear o
Image of Leslie Pinckney Hill

Leslie Pinckney Hill

1880 - 1960

Leslie Pinckney Hill was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, on May 14, 1880. A graduate of Harvard University’s bachelors and masters programs, Hill was a poet, playwright, educator, and community leader and organizer. His published works include The Wings of Oppression (The Stratford Co., 1921) and the play Toussaint L’ Ouverture, A Dynamic History (The Christopher Publishing House, 1928). He
Image of Otto Leland Bohanan

Otto Leland Bohanan

1895 - 1932

Otto Leland Bohanan was born around 1895 in Washington, D.C. He graduated from Howard University and taught English at the Catholic University. He also worked as a music instructor at DeWitt Clinton High School, and died in 1932
Image of Paul Laurence Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar

1872 - 1906

Paul Laurence Dunbar was an American poet, novelist and playwright whose reputation was based on his verses and short stories written in black dialect. He is known as the first African American writer who tried to live off of his writings. Dunbar was also one of the first black authors to gain national fame and international reputation in the United States
Image of Phillis Wheatley

Phillis Wheatley

1753 - 1784

First ever African-American female poet published, Phillis Wheatley was kidnapped in West Africa when she was 8 years old and brought to Boston on a slave ship. There, she was purchased by a tailor called John Wheatley to be his wife’s servant. Phillis was treated kindly by the Wheatleys who soon acknowledged her talents and allowed her to learn to read and write. Her first book was published in