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Author James Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes

The Negro Poet Laurate

Langston Hughes  (1902-1967)

James Langston Hughes was born February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri. His parents divorced when he was a child. At 13, he settled with his mother and her new husband in Ohio. Following graduation, he spent a year at Columbia University afterwards traveling and holding a series of odd jobs.

Hughes's first book of poetry, The Weary Blues, was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1926. He finished his college education at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania three years later. In 1930 his first novel, Not Without Laughter, won the Harmon gold medal for literature.

Langston Hughes is known for his insightful and colorful portrayals of black life. He wrote novels, short stories and plays, as well as poetry, and is also known for his engagement with the world of jazz and the influence it had on his writing, as in "Montage of a Dream Deferred." His life and work were enormously important in shaping the artistic contributions of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. Unlike other notable black poets of the period—Claude McKay, Jean Toomer, and Countee Cullen—Hughes refused to differentiate between his personal experience and the common experience of black America. He wanted to tell the stories of his people in ways that reflected their actual culture, including both their suffering and their love of music, laughter, and language itself.


  • The Weary Blues (1926)
  • Not Without Laughter (1930)
  • Mule Bone (1931)
  • The Dream Keeper and Other Poems (1932)
  • Popo and Fifina (1932)
  • The Ways of White Folks (1934)
  • The Big Sea: An Autobiography (1940)
  • Jim Crow's Last Stand (1943)
  • Simple Speaks His Mind (1950)
  • The First Book of Negroes (1952)
  • Laughing to Keep from Crying (1952)
  • Simple Takes a Wife (1953)
  • The First Book of Rhythms (1954)
  • The First Book of Jazz (1955)
  • The Sweet Flypaper of Life (1955)
  • I Wonder as I Wander: An Autobiographical Journey (1956)
  • The First Book of the West Indies (1956)
  • Simple Stakes a Claim (1957)
  • Tambourines to Glory: A Novel (1958)
  • The Langston Hughes Reader (1958)
  • The First Book of Africa (1960)
  • Black Navity (1960)
  • The Best of Simple (1961)
  • The Simple Omnibus (1961)
  • Fight for Freedom: The Story of the NAACP (1962)
  • Something in Common and Other Stories (1963)
  • Simple's Uncle Sam (1965)
  • Black Magic: A Pictorial History of the Negro in American
  • Entertainment (1967)

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