Langston Hughes ‘born a year before accepted date’, researcher finds | Books


A poet’s late-night internet search of local newspaper archives has revealed that one of the US’s greatest cultural icons, the African American poet Langston Hughes, was born a year earlier than his biographers have believed for decades.

Kansas poet Eric McHenry told the New York Times that he was trawling through digitised local newspaper archives when he spotted a note on the society page of the African American weekly newspaper, the Topeka Plaindealer from 20 December 1901, mentioning that “Little Langston Hughes has been quite ill for the past two weeks. He is improving.” The paper recorded the minutiae of daily life for locals, promising: “Do you want to know where your friends are, who they visit, what they are doing? What the race is doing in general? Read the…

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