March 27 - A Big Journey, A Big Risk

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On March 27, 1897, the theatrical column in a New York City newspaper speculated on the potential success of Paul Laurence Dunbar's trip to England, where he went for a recital tour and to find an English publisher for his book Lyrics of Lowly Life.

The daughter and assistant of Major Pond, the noted lecture agent in America, is to begin operations in London in the same line.  Miss Edith Pond is to introduce to the critics of England the colored poet, Paul Laurence Dunbar, whom Mr. W. D. Howells recently lauded.  If the critics pronounce favorably upon the poet, then he is to be run for all he is worth.

"Twinkles."  New York Tribune (New York, New York).  March 27, 1897.  Page 3.

Major James B. Pond was a Civil War hero and Medal of Honor winner who became a celebrity talent manager.  His clients included Mark Twain, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington and Winston Churchill.  His daughter Edith had little experience as a promoter when she and Paul undertook their trip to England.

Mr. Dunbar is now in Europe having sailed from New York on the 6th.  He will remain abroad one year under the management of Major Pond's daughter, where he will give private and public readings.  Discredited simply because of his color in the country of his birth, he will find a welcome in a country that has passed beyond the semi-civilized prejudice against the slave or his descendants and will return armed with new courage to do what he can to help his people.

"The Race Problem."  Enterprise (Omaha, Nebraska).  February 20, 1897.  Page 1.

A brochure was printed in London to promote Paul as a speaker for English audiences.  On the front cover was a photo of Paul wearing glasses, and inside was a sample program listing several of his poems.  It also included favorable comments from the British press, and testimonials from prominent Americans like Richard Watson Gilder, editor of The Century Magazine, and Rose Cleveland, former acting First Lady.

European Tour of Paul Laurence Dunbar the Young Negro Poet Who Will Give Readings and Recitations from His Own Writings

Edith Pond, Manager

I wish to tell you how much we enjoyed Mr. Dunbar's impromptu recitation at the office the other day.  We were impressed not only by the fine voice and the ability of the reciter, but also by the earnestness and modesty of the man.  As you know, he has several times contributed to the Century, his work being judged solely on its merit.  He has our most cordial wishes for his future success.

R. W. Gilder

Some friends have been good enough to send me a copy of your poems "Majors and Minors," and I have been reading them with great enjoyment, and wish to tell you so.  I hope you will follow the leadings of your muse, and continue to exhibit to a critical world the musical faculty you possess.  I especially like your loyalty to your race.  I have used and shall use whatever influence I have to introduce you to those to whom your verses are strangers.

Rose Elizabeth Cleveland

English promotional brochure, 1897.  Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 3).