Hughes Langston born in Joplin, Missouri on February 01, 1902, was an American poet, writer of short stories, social activist, newspaper columnist, playwright and novelist. He is known well as leader and primary contributor to the African American cultural movement, called Harlem Renaissance that occurred in the 1920s and 1930s. Langston is noted well for creating jazz poetry. In 1921, his first poem was published. He studied at Columbia University, however left after a year to travel. Vachel Lindsay promoted his poetry after which in 1926, Langston published his first book. He continued writing plays, prose and poetry in countless numbers including a well known column for the Chicago Defender.
Soon after Hughes birth, his mother moved during his youth while his and his father moved to Mexico. Mary his maternal grandmother looked after him after the parents separated. After moving to many cities, Hughes and his maternal grandmother settled in Cleveland, Ohio. Here he began writing poems under the influence of one of his teachers. He submitted poetry to magazines including the literary magazine of his school.
In 1920 he graduated from high school and around this time ‘The Negro Speaks of Rivers’ was published in The Crisis Magazine receiving favorable critical appraisal. After enrolling at Columbia University, he did many odd jobs and was also part of Harlem Renaissance. In 1922 he dropped out of University and worked as steward on a ship, lived in Paris and continued publishing poetry. He continued with various jobs while writing poetry. In the Opportunity magazine literary competition, he won first prize for his poem ‘The Weary Blues’ which in 1926 was published by Knopf.
Hughes was amongst the first to use jazz dialect and rhythms while depicting life of urban blacks. In 1927, ‘Fine Clothes to the Jew’ was his second poetry volume published. In 1929, he published ‘Not Without Laughter’ his first novel, after graduation and could make a living as a writer. ‘The Way of White Folks’ his first collection of short stories got published in 1934. ‘The Big Sea’ was his autobiography up to age 28, published in 1940 and the second installment ‘I Wonder as I Wander’ in the 1960s. Hughes Langston died on May 22, 1967 due to complications of prostate cancer.