James Mercer Langston Hughes was born on February 1st, 1902 in Joplin, Missouri, second child of Carrie Langston Hughes, and James Hughes.
His parents seperated when Langston was a young child. He had a diverse childhood. He lived with his grandmother from 1907-1915. He lived with his mother from 1915-1920. And he breifly lived with his father from 1920-1921.
Langston attended high school in Cleveland, Ohio where he was named the class poet. He graduated on June 16, 1920. He enrolled in Columbia University where he got involved with some writers in Harlem and wrote "The Negro Speaks of River."
In 1925, Langston's poem "The Weary Blues", won first prize in the Opporunity magazine literary competition. He also won a scholarship to Lincoln University. He published a second volume of poetry, "Fine Clothes to the Jew" in 1927. He graduated in 1929. During the 1930's, he frequently traveled around the US. He also traveled abroad many places such as to The Soviet Union, Japan, and Haiti. He published his first set of stories, "The Ways of White Folks" in 1934.
In 1940, Hughes' first autobiography, "The Big Sea", was published. Hughes also began contributing a column to the Chicago Defender. In 1949 he wrote a play that inspired the opera Troubled Island and published yet another anthology of work, The Poetry of the Negro. During the 1950's and 60's, he published countless other works. He also published his second autobiography, I Wonder as I Wander, in 1956.
Langston hughes died on May 22nd, 1967. He died from complications of prostate cancer. Langston Hughe's ashes were interred beneath the entrance of the Arthur Schomburg Center.