• June 27: Born in Dayton, Ohio.


  • Joshua and Matilda Dunbar, Paul's parents, separate and later divorce.


  • Dunbar writes "An Easter Ode," his first poem.


  • Dunbar gives his first known public reading, delivering "An Easter Ode" to the congregation at the Eaker Street A. M. E. Church, Dayton, Ohio.


  • August 16: Joshua Dunbar dies and is buried at Dayton's National Cemetery.


  • June 8: Dunbar's first published poem, "Our Martyred Soldiers," appeared in the Dayton Herald.


  • Attends Central High School in Dayton, where he edits the school newspaper and serves as president of the literary society.
  • Edits the Dayton Tattler, a short-lived African-American newspaper published by his high school classmate, Orville Wright.


  • June 16: Dunbar graduates from Central High School.
  • Works as elevator operator in the Callahan Building, which he would hold until 1893.


  • June 27: Invited to deliver a public reading to the Western Association of Writers, Dayton, Ohio.


  • Self-publishes first book of poems, Oak and Ivy, selling them for $1 to people riding in his elevator.
  • Attends World's Fair in Chicago and met Frederick Douglass, who employed Dunbar in the Haitian Pavilion.


  • Moves to Toledo, Ohio, with help from attorney Charles A. Thatcher and psychiatrist Henry A. Tobey.
  • April: Dunbar captivated by photograph of Alice Moore published in the Boston Monthly Review and began writing to her.
  • Publishes Majors and Minors.


  • June 27: Review of Majors and Minors written by William Dean Howells was published in Harper's Weekly.
  • Dunbar obtains a literary agent and moves to New York.
  • Publishes Lyrics of Lowly Life, which contains an introduction written by William Dean Howells, editor of Harper's Weekly.
  • Correspondence between Dunbar and Alice Moore continued throughout the year.


  • Travels to England for six-month tour of the London literary circuit.
  • Employed at Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
  • Becomes engaged to Alice Ruth Moore.


  • March 6: Married Alice Ruth Moore.
  • Publishes Folks from Dixie, his first collection of short stories.
  • Publishes his first novel, The Uncalled.
  • Resigns from position at Library of Congress to write full-time.


  • Publishes Lyrics of the Hearthside.
  • Publishes Poems of Cabin and Field.
  • Dunbar relocates to Colorado for health reasons after being diagnosed with tuberculosis.


  • Publishes The Strength of Gideon and Other Stories and The Love of Landry.


  • Publishes The Fanatics and Candle-Lightin' Time.


  • Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Ruth Moore Dunbar separate.
  • Publishes The Sport of the Gods, his final novel


  • Publishes Lyrics of Love and Laughter.
  • Publishes In Old Plantation Days, a collection of short stories.
  • Publishes When Malindy Sings.


  • Returns to Dayton, Ohio to live with his mother.
  • Publishes The Heart of Happy Hollow, a collection of short stories.
  • Publishes Li'l Gal.


  • Publishes Howdy, Honey, Howdy.
  • Publishes Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow.


  • Publishes his last book of poems, Joggin' Erlong.
  • February 9: Paul Laurence Dunbar dies in Dayton, Ohio, and is buried in Woodland Cemetery.