James Langston Hughes was born February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri. His parents divorced when he waAt 13, he settled with his mother and her new husband in Ohio. Following graduation, he spent a year at Columbia University afterwards traveling and holding a series of odd jobs.
Hughes's first book of poetry, The Weary Blues, was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1926. He finished his college education at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania three years later. In 1930 his first novel, Not Without Laughter, won the Harmon gold medal for literature.