Born in Joplin, Missouri on February 1, 1902, Langston Hughes was an astoundingly prolific poet and writer, well-known today for being a part of the Harlem Renaissance and a premiere contributor to the American literary heritage.
He wrote sixteen books of poems, two novels, three collections of short stories, four volumes of “editorial” and “documentary” fiction, twenty plays, children’s poetry, musicals and operas, three autobiographies, a dozen radio and television scripts, and dozens of magazine articles. He was a newspaper columnist for more than twenty years, writing for The Chicago Defender and The New York Post.
Already known as the Class Poet in eighth grade, Hughes sought to please his father by attending Columbia University in engineering. His father was certain a writer could not earn a living.
One of Hughes’ best-loved poems is “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” written out of his sense of loss at being shuttled around to live with different family members after his parents divorced. His books include three autobiographies: Not Without Laughter (1930); The Big Sea (1940); I Wonder As I Wander (1956).
Langston Hughes died in 1967.
His residence at 20 East 127th Street in Harlem, New York has been given landmark status by the New York City Preservation Commission.