Langston Hughes Biography

Person who brought the rhythm of Jazz- Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes was the famous poet, playwright and the writer. His first and famous poem was “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” which was published in the year 1921. He joined the Colombia University in 1921 but has to leave that because of the financial crisis. Later he worked as a freighter and travelled to Rome, Paris and gained the financial support by doing several odd jobs. Later when the poetry of the Hughes was promoted, he joined the Lincoln University in 1929 and there he launched all the books that are related to poems. This was the first time he launched the books as a writer in his entire career. He was famous for the jazz rhythms and he has his own creation in using these rhythms. He was the founder of the cultural activity called as Harlem Renaissance. He mostly used the urban blacks’ life for the poetry or for the stories.  He continued his writing for the continuous four decades and he worked even as a social activist. As a part of this profession he used to protest against the injustice that happens towards the Africans-Americans.

In his last stage of his career and life, he wrote an autobiography of 2 volumes and even included some pictorial volumes in the biography. He was considered as the inspirative model for the African Americans and was appreciated by every person.

Quick Facts:

  • Nick name: Ask Him
  • Date of birth: 1st February 1902
  • Place of birth: Joplin, Missouri.
  • Origin: Illinois
  • Profession: American poet, novelist, social activist, columnist and playwright
  • Known for: Jazz poetry
  • Website

Childhood and growing years:

Langston Hughes came into this beautiful world in the year 1902 on 1st February. He was born in Joplin, Missouri. Hughes parents got divorced at his childhood and thereafter his father took him to Mexico. He was brought up in the hands of his grandmother and lived with her until he reached 13 years old. Later he was moved to Illinois where his mother lived. He began writing his poetry in this location.

He completed his schooling in the central high school which is located in the Ohio. There he began writing his poetry and at that time he was in eighth grade. Unfortunately, Hughes father did not support him in choosing this career and he was moved to Columbia University to pursue engineering.  After completion of the graduation he went to Mexico and lived for about one year. Later he joined Colombia University and lived there for another year. During his education, he joined several jobs to gain the financial support and later he moved to Europe. In 1924, he travelled to Washington. Later he stopped this engineering course and started writing the poetry. The poem that was first published was the Negro Speaks of Rivers. This was one of the famous poems in his career. Later the poems of the Hughes started to appear in NAACP, and other magazines. The first book of the poetry of Hughes was published in the year 1924. Later he completed his education from the Lincoln University. Later he started writing Novels and the first novel that was written by Hughes was Not Without Laughter. Hughes received Harmon gold medal for the literature in the year 1930.  He succeeded in writing several novels, stories throughout his entire career.

Claim to fame

Langston Hughes gained his fame as a famous poet, playwright, story writer, novelist, translator, author, and even as a lecturer. In the initial days of his career he worked as the assistant cook, busboy, and launderer and has worked with many odd jobs because of his financial crisis. He lived at many places like Spain, Italy, France, Mexico and at the Soviet Union. Hughes achieved his degree in the year 1929 and he was the young poet in his generation. The first book of Hughes was the weary blues which was published and appeared in the year 1926.  He was considered as the leading voices for 1920s Harlem renaissance. The first Novel of Hughes was written with the financial and moral support from the charlotte Mason. He travelled all the colleges of the southern America by working as a teacher as well as continued writing his poetry.

He was the first black author who did not receive any support from any individual throughout his career. He worked on his own to gain the fame and he supported himself through his writings. Later he travelled to Soviet Union, Japan and Haiti and during this journey he wrote the poem ‘goodbye, Christ’. But unfortunately this was attacked by the religious group in the year 1940.  He even concentrated on emphasizing about the African culture and its importance.  Thus he succeeded in gaining his fame both as a poet as well as social activist.


At last Hughes died because of the prostate cancer in the year 1967 in the New York City. In his memory the residence of Hughes was given the name as the Langston Hughes place and it is given the landmark status.  He left us by giving the great poetry. He has written total 11 plays and several poems and books.

He was considered as the important black writers and he was the person who thought of the Harlem renaissance. He was very creative in his thoughts and became as an inspiration to every African American. Americans have succeeded to shape out their politics and literature only because of the literary works of Hughes. He was always against the racism and worked hard to prevent this racism in their country. He fought for his entire career for this motive and succeeded in maintain his racial pride.   He always tried to promote equality, spirituality and humor in his poems and even he tried to condemn injustice and racism. The thoughts of this author were clearly exhibited in his books and poems.

Awards and Honors Received: 

Let us see the details of the awards and the honors that are received by the Hughes:

In 1943, Hughes was honored with the Litt.D by the Lincoln University. In the year 1960, Hughes was awarded with the Spingarn medal by the NAACP because of his achievements as the African American. In 1963, he gained the honorary doctorate by the Howard University. He was awarded with the Langston Hughes medal by city college of New York in the year 1973. He was the first person to receive this medal. Later in 1982, the house of Langston Hughes was considered as the historic place and is given place in the registry of the historic places. In 2002, the postal department has honored him by adding the image to the postage stamps.  He was listed in the list of the Top 100 greatest African Americans in the world. He achieved many awards throughout his life time. Though this famous personality is not alive today, but his achievements remain forever in this world.

Personal Quotes:

  • An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he might choose.
  • Beauty for some provides escape, who gain a happiness in eyeing the gorgeous buttocks of the ape or autumn sunsets exquisitely dying.
  • I have discovered in life that there are ways of getting almost anywhere you want to go, if you really want to go.
  • Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby

We Negro writers, just by being black, have been on the blacklist all our lives. Censorship for us begins at the color line.

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