Langston Hughes was a renowned American author and a major figure in the Harlem Renaissance, a flourishing of black intellectual, literary and artistic life that took place in the 1920s. Born in Joplin, Missouri, on February 1, 1902, Hughes was raised by his grandmother until the age of thirteen. He then moved to Lincoln, Illinois, to live with his mother and her husband before the family finally settled in Cleveland, Ohio. It was in Lincoln that Hughes began writing poetry.In high school, Hughes was exposed to the works of Carl Sandburg (1878-1896), another poet from the Midwest.
This inspired him to start writing poetry and developing his own unique style. He sent his work to magazines but all of them were rejected. In 1924, Hughes moved to Washington D. C.
to live with his mother. Despite working as a hotel waiter and earning very little money, he was able to write a lot of poems.One of his poems, The Weary Blues, won first prize in 1925 in a literary contest sponsored by Opportunity magazine. That same summer, two more of his works won prizes in the Crisis literary contest. His success caught the attention of Carl Van Vechten, a novelist and critic who organized the publication of Hughes' first volume of poetry, The Weary Blues (1926).The Pittsburgh Courier published a headline at the top of the page that read: LANGSTON HUGHES'S BOOK OF TRASH POEMS.
Despite this criticism, Hughes continued to write and publish works throughout his life. He wrote novels, short stories, plays and essays as well as poetry.Hughes' works often explored the lives of African Americans and their struggles with racism and poverty. He wrote about topics such as identity, love and injustice with an honest and direct style that resonated with readers around the world. His works are still widely read today.