January 27 - Writer Meets Writer

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On January 27, 1896, Paul Laurence Dunbar in Dayton wrote to Alice Ruth Moore in New Orleans about an encounter he had with the writer George Washington Cable.

I had a most delightful chat with the greatest of your southern authors, George W. Cable, and I found him delightful.  He said some very surprising and encouraging things and invited me to contribute to a new magazine which he has bought and is to edit.

Paul Laurence Dunbar to Alice Ruth Moore, January 27, 1896.  Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 8).

Cable was a white writer and editor from Alice's hometown of New Orleans.  Though his family had been slave holders and he fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War, Cable later became an advocate of racial equality.  He visited Dayton to take part in a benefit for a Kentucky college.

Entertainment under the auspices of the Woman's Literary Club, for the benefit of Berea College, Ky., by Southern authors, orators and men of power:  George W. Cable, John Fox, Jr., and President William G. Frost.  College Glee Club will give Southern Melodies in dialect and Mountain Songs.

Advertisement.  Dayton Daily Journal (Dayton, Ohio).  January 23, 1896.  Page 5.

Several years later, a longtime friend of Paul's described the encounter.  She said that Cable held one of Paul's early volumes of poetry in his hand as he recited.  It may have been Oak and Ivy (published in 1893), which was more of a "little brown book" than Majors and Minors (from 1895).

George W. Cable came to Dayton to give a reading.  That evening as the novelist recited, he held in his hand a little brown book, which he had been looking over, behind the scenes, while awaiting his place on the program.  Its author, in the top seat of the gallery, saw with a thrill.  After the reading they were introduced, and that was the beginning of that recognition and appreciation which the poet craved.  Mr. Cable discussed metrical rules, literature, college, men, and magazines;  he criticized Paul's book, and encouraged him to further work.

Some Dayton Saints and Prophets, by Charlotte Reeve Conover.  United Brethren Publishing House (Dayton, Ohio).  1907.  Pages 182 - 183.