Born in Joplin, Mo. and graduated Lincoln Univ., 1929, Hughes worked at a variety of jobs and lived in several countries, including Mexico and France, before Vachel Lindsay discovered his poetry in 1925. The publication of The Weary Blues (1926), his first volume of poetry, enabled Hughes to attend Lincoln Univ. in Pennsylvania, from which he graduated in 1929. His writing, which often uses dialect and jazz rhythms, is largely concerned with depicting African American life, particularly the experience of the urban African American. Among his later collections of poetry are Shakespeare in Harlem (1942), One-Way Ticket (1949), and Selected Poems (1959). Hughes's numerous other works include several plays, notably Mulatto (1935); books for children, such as The First Book of Negroes (1952); and novels, including Not Without Laughter (1930). His newspaper sketches about Jesse B. Simple were collected in The Best of Simple (1961).
See his autobiographies, The Big Sea (1940) and I Wonder as I Wander (1956); The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes (1995), edited by A. Rampersad and D. Roessel; biography by A. Rampersad (2 vol., 1986–88); studies by O. Jemie (1985) and S. C. Tracy (1988).
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