Paul Laurence Dunbar was born in Dayton, Ohio, in 1872, to parents who were both former slaves. From this humble and impoverished background, he went on to achieve international recognition for his work, which he alternately rendered in African-American dialect and in standard English. His work was popular with both black and white readers. Though he died of tuberculosis at the age of 33, his output was prolific. Before his death, he published twelve poetry collections, four short-story collections, one play, and five novels.