Langston Hughes • Born James Mercer Langston Hughes on February 1, 1902 • Parents? • James Hughes and Carrie Langston • Where? • Joplin, Missouri • Primarily raised by his grandmother, Mary, who died while he was in his teens. • Lived with his mother in Cleveland, Ohio • Died on May 22, 1967 of cancer
Langston Huges • Inspirations? • Walt Whitman (author of Song of Myself) • Carl Sandburg (author of Chicago Poems)
Langston Hughes • Education? • College: Columbia University in New York • College: Lincoln University in Pennsylvania • First publication? • A book of poems called The Weary Blues (1926) • Also wrote a column for the newspaper: Chicago Defender.
Langston Hughes • Leading voice of New York’s Harlem Renaissance • “The Weary Blues” poem won first prize in Opportunity magazine before it was published with a book of poems under the same title. • First novel: Not Without Laughter
Street Scene • 1940s Broadway show • Lyrics by Langston Hughes • Music by Kurt Weill • The success of the show helped Hughes buy his own house
Street Scene • Setting: 1946, East Manhattan (New York City) • Two plotlines • Romance between a woman, Rose, and her neighbor, Sam. • Anna, Rose’s mother, has an affair, and is found out by Rose’s father, Frank
Troubled Island • 1949 • Langston wrote the Libretto (small opera) which later inspired William Grant Still to write a full play. • Setting: Haiti in 1791 • About an emperor and his wife being overthrown by their people
More Interesting Facts about Langston Hughes • After dropping out of Columbia, Hughes worked a few odd jobs including… • working as a busboy in a Washington, D.C. hotel, where he met the biggest promoter of his writing: Vachel Lindsay. • Working on a cargo ship that made passage between Africa and Spain.