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200 × 130 mm
224 pages
35 illustrations
13 Jan 2020
Critical Lives
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Langston Hughes W. Jason Miller

As the first black author in America to make his living exclusively by writing, Langston Hughes inspired a generation of writers and activists. One of the pioneers of jazz poetry, Hughes led the Harlem Renaissance, while Martin Luther King invoked his signature metaphor of dreaming in his speeches.

In this new biography, W. Jason Miller illuminates Hughes’s status as an international literary figure through a compelling look at the relationship between his extraordinary life and his canonical works. Drawing on unpublished letters and manuscripts, Miller addresses Hughes’s often ignored contributions to the civil rights movement of the 1960s and his complex and well-guarded sexuality, and repositions him as a writer, rather than merely the most beloved African American poet of the twentieth century.

W. Jason Miller is Professor of Literature at North Carolina State University. His books include Langston Hughes and American Lynching Culture (2011) and Origins of the Dream: Hughes’s Poetry and King’s Rhetoric (2015).


1 Motherless Child, 1901–19
2 I, Too, am America, 1919–24
3 A Bone of Contention, 1924–30
4 In the USSR, 1930–33
5 Let America Be America Again, 1933–40
6 Aimee B. Simple, 1940–45
7 F. B. Eyes, 1945–50
8 Montage of a Dream Deferred, 1950–53
9 Seeing Red, 1953–60
10 Bright Tomorrows, 1960–62
11 I Dream a World, 1962–7


Further Reading
Photo Acknowledgements