PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR (1872-1906) was an American novelist, poet and playwright who had a brief but impactful career. He enjoyed writing at a young age and published his first collection of poems as a teenager. While working as an elevator operator, Dunbar released and personally distributed his works to earn extra money. By 1895, he’d caught the eye of national publications like The New York Times, which considered him a formidable talent. He was known for using a distinct dialect informed by his family’s Southern roots. Despite his professional prospects, Dunbar’s life was cut short at age 33 due to tuberculosis.