Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow: The Courtship and Marriage of Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Ruth Moore

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Overview

A remarkable story of tortured love among the African American elite

When acclaimed African American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar saw a photo of Alice Ruth Moore in a literary magazine in 1895, he sparked off one of the most important-and turbulent-romances of turn-of-the-century America.

During the six years of their courtship and marriage, Paul and Alice enjoyed literary ...
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Overview

A remarkable story of tortured love among the African American elite

When acclaimed African American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar saw a photo of Alice Ruth Moore in a literary magazine in 1895, he sparked off one of the most important-and turbulent-romances of turn-of-the-century America.

During the six years of their courtship and marriage, Paul and Alice enjoyed literary acclaim, received recognition as the vanguard of African American accomplishment, and gained access to elite white society. But beneath the idyllic veneer, Alice's life was marred by rape and brutality, Paul's by alcoholism, depression, sickness, and artistic self-doubt. After suffering a near-fatal beating in 1902, Alice left him to become an important suffragist, and when Paul died four years later, she had answered his ardent letters for reconciliation with only a single telegram: "No."
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Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
Paul Laurence Dunbar is a name most of us remember from high school English class. His Negro dialect poetry made him famous in his day, while the more standard writing of his wife Alice Ruth Moore has been forgotten. Alexander looks at the literary work of these two people, but more specifically uses their courtship and marriage as representative of the African American middle-class at the turn of the 20th century. The mores and expectations of post-slavery America were reflected in Dunbar's desire for a light-skinned woman who could pass for white, and Moore's desire to raise her class by marrying a famous author. Their distant, then violent, courtship and their ill-fated marriage is a sad story in itself, but it also reveals the problems African Americans had adjusting from their slave past in a world full of prejudice, some external and much of it internal. KLIATT Codes: A—Recommended for advanced students and adults. 2001, Penguin, Plume, 242p. illus. notes. bibliog. index., Ages 17 to adult.
—Nola Theiss
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780641747595
  • Publisher: The Penguin Group
  • Publication date: 3/30/2004
  • Pages: 242
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Eleanor Alexander is assistant professor of history at Georgia Institute of Technology and has been awarded a Winterthur Fellowship, a Dorothy Danforth Compton Fellowship, and the Drusilla Dunjee Houston Scholarship. She earned her Ph.D. at Princeton and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
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