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James Langston Hughes, 1 February 1902, Joplin, Missouri, USA, d. 22 May 1967, New York City, New York, USA. Born into a middle-class black family, Langston attended school in various places, including Lincoln, Illinois, which is where he began writing poetry, and Cleveland, Ohio. After studying at Columbia University he worked on ships, visiting Africa and Europe, spending some time working in the kitchen of a Parisian nightclub, and then took a job as a busboy at the Wardman Park Hotel in Washington DC. There, he managed to get a poem he had written, The Weary Blues, into the hands of poet Vachel Lindsay, who introduced the young man to publishers and soon Hughes work began appearing in print. His first book of poems appeared in 1925. Owing to a scholarship, Hughes was able to resume his studies and in 1929 graduated from Lincoln University. His declared literary influences were Paul Laurence Dunbar, Carl Sandburg and Walt Whitman.