On August 26, 1902, Paul Laurence Dunbar was in Chicago, where he gave a public reading of his poetry.
Paul Laurence Dunbar is himself again after a serious illness of several months' duration. He gave a recital of his work in Chicago, August 26th, and received an ovation upon his appearance for the initial number.
"City Paragraphs." The Colored American (Washington, D. C.). September 6, 1902. Page 16.
Paul was 30 years old, in poor health and sharing a home with his mother in Chicago. Paul and his wife Alice separated violently about seven months earlier, and she ignored his efforts at reconciliation. Also living in Chicago were Paul's two half-brothers and their families. Paul's sister-in-law Electra Murphy asked Alice to come to Chicago and give him another chance.
Don't think I am meddling or that I have been asked to do this, for it is not so. I can't stand to see Paul in the condition he is in without trying to help him some, and Alice dear, help must come from you. Won't you forgive him? I know it is hard and I know that you have cause to act as you do. He is so changed and so miserable. I am sorry for him. And ma is not herself. Won't you please come here, and come right away. I hope you will reconsider the matter and don't forget how miserable poor Paul is and I know he is pining for you.
Electra "Leck" Murphy to Alice Moore Dunbar, August 14, 1902. Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 8).
Although Alice no longer communicated with Paul, she continued to write to his mother Matilda, who also begged her join them in Chicago.
Oh Alice, we are so so sad here. I want to say that we have a lovely flat. Alice, I miss you so I must ask you once again won't you see how nice it is here. O Alice Paul is dying with grief and remorse and his state is a sad one. I do not know just what to say, but please come and reason together.
Matilda Dunbar to Alice Moore Dunbar, August 12, 1902. Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 8).
Alice my heart shall always plead for you. I want you and I will never be happy again. This house is a misery to me without you now.
Matilda Dunbar to Alice Moore Dunbar, August 24, 1902. Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 8).
It seems since you have left Washington that you have gone so far away that I will never see you again. But, oh Alice, I am miserable. My heart is broken! I am very thankful indeed for the picture you sent me. I have it right here where I can see it frequently. It is a great comfort, but I'd rather see you.
Matilda Dunbar to Alice Moore Dunbar, September 12, 1902. Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 8).