August 6 - Currency Exchange

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On August 6, 1899, Paul Laurence Dunbar wrote a check for $75 to pay off a loan made two years earlier by a friend in England (although he misspelled her first name).  The check is marked with the stamps of several agencies in New York and London.

Capital Savings Bank
Pay to Katharine Impey
Seventy Five 00/100


Check to Katharine [Catharine] Impey, August 6, 1899.    Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 2).

Catherine Impey promoted racial equality in the British Empire and United States, and she welcomed many Black Americans to her home in Somerset, England.  Paul's 1903 book of poetry Lyrics of Love and Laughter was dedicated "To Miss Catherine Impey."  When she received Paul's check in England, Impey wrote him a long and chatty letter in response.

The bank here promised to let me know in a few days if they could or could not cash the cheque you sent (& which I duly received).  So thinking to ease your mind if possible of further trouble I waited.  I believe they have had some considerable bother but will finally get the amount for me all right.  But I should not have kept you waiting so long had I known it to be so long.  I am very sorry if it has caused you anxiety.  I cannot tell you how often, in mind, I have written to you on various subjects we have mutually at heart, but always something has stood in the way.  I felt very grieved at the poor accounts of your health which reached me.  I feared this loan was a burden to you too -- and am very thankful you have been able to pay it off.  Debts are such a misery if one does not see how to get rid of them.

Catherine Impey to Paul Laurence Dunbar, September 13, 1899.    Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 1).

Paul went to England in 1897 for a recital tour and to find an English publisher for his book Lyrics of Lowly Life.  The trip was not financially successful and he had to depend on other people for money.  Some of his expenses were paid by his tour manager Edith Pond.  Paul kept track of her disbursements on the pages of a pocket calendar.

Money from Miss Pond

$13.00          in New York
    7.00          first wk. London
    6.91          Bd bill up to Feb 24
    1.25          Laundry up to Feb 27
  47.50          Steamboat fare
  17.00          Fare to New York
    1.00          Mending on ship bd
    1.25          Mending on ship bd
    6.70          Bd bill to Mar 3rd
    7.50          Bd bill to Mar 10
    1.12          Sp money
      .60          Sp money
  10.00          Bd bill up to Mar 17
      .07          Car fare Friday 19th
    1.00          Spend Friday 26
    7.42          Bd bl Mar 24
    7.42          Bd bl Mar 31

Pocket calendar, February - March 1897.  Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 3).

Paul experienced conflict with his manager and attempted to sever ties with her.  In a letter to his fiancée Alice Ruth Moore, he implied that another woman in England would give him money.

I may take a notion to come home in a week or two.  She don't want me to go and won't pay my return fare, but she doesn't happen to be the only woman in England and there is another who will.

Paul Laurence Dunbar to Alice Ruth Moore, June 27, 1897.  Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 5).

After separating from Pond, Paul was managed briefly by an American friend named Henry Downing and moved into his home, as he explained in a letter to his mother Matilda.

I am still at Downings and shall probably remain here during my stay in London.  I will send you some money as soon as I can do so.  Miss Pond brought me here entirely out of the reading season, and I have made nothing by any readings since I came.  I expect to make something like fifty dollars in this coming one and if I do, I will send you a part of it anyway, as I have overstayed my month and feel that now I ought to pay for my living here when I have anything.

Paul Laurence Dunbar to Matilda Dunbar, undated [prior to June 5, 1897].  Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 1).

Later Paul resided with his American friend Dr. Alexander Crummell, who had arrived in England in May.

I am so sorry that I must again disappoint you as to money.  I have moved into the house with Dr. Crummell.  My expenses here are necessarily high on account of my social position & the duties it entails, but I have not given up the ship by any means.  Dr. Crummell wants me to go home in October with him and he and a number of other men will furnish capital for me to start a magazine and also try to get me into the Congressional library.

Paul Laurence Dunbar to Matilda Dunbar, June 14, 1897.  Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 1).

The publisher Frank Dodd visited England and gave some money to Paul, as he mentioned in letters to Alice and the literary critic William Dean Howells.

Do you know that I came near coming home Saturday two weeks ago?  Mr. Dodd my publisher was here.  He is very anxious about the novel I am writing (this is secret) and wanted me to come home.  He gave me £10 for fare but I kept it and would not come.  I shall stay in the field until the war is ended and it seems now as if it would end with success to our side.

Paul Laurence Dunbar to Alice Ruth Moore, April 23, 1897.  Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 5).

In the matter of reading here, I have done very little.  The season was not open when we arrived and little was to be done except in clubs and at hotel smoking concerts, a sort of work which I despised.  Mr. Dodd kindly came to my rescue when he was here and deposited sufficient for my fare home.

Paul Laurence Dunbar to William Dean Howells, April 26, 1897.  Howells family papers, Houghton Library, Harvard University.  MS Am 1784 (133).