Selected Letters of Langston Hughes | Mechanics' Institute

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Selected Letters of Langston Hughes
Editor Arnold Rampersad in conversation with Journalist Elaine Elinson

Book cover of The Selected Letters of Langston Hughes

The life and times of this great American writer is explored by Professor Rampersad, Senior Associate Dean for the Humanities at Stanford University, and activist Elaine Elinson, author of Wherever There’s a Fight: How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers, and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California.

This first comprehensive selection of correspondence by the iconic and beloved Langston Hughes expresses his many struggles as well as his memorable achievements. Arranged by decade and linked by expert commentary, the volume guides us through Hughes’s journey in all its aspects: personal, political, practical, and—above all—literary.

His letters range from those written to family members, as well as friends, fellow artists, and critics including such as Carl Van Vechten, Blanche Knopf, Zora Neale Hurston, Arna Bontemps, Vachel Lindsay, Ezra Pound, Richard Wright, Kurt Weill, Carl Sandburg, Gwendolyn Brooks, James Baldwin, Martin Luther King, Jr., Alice Walker, Amiri Baraka, and Muhammad Ali.

Arnold Rampersad is Senior Associate Dean for the Humanities at Stanford University, where he is also Sara Hart Kimball Professor in the Humanities and a member of the English department. He is a recipient of fellowships from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Rockefeller Foundation. He is also an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has written for The New Republic, The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Times Book Review, and The Washington Post.

Photograph of Elaine ElinsonElaine Elinson is author of Wherever There’s a Fight: How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers, and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California, written with Stan Yogi and published by Heyday. She also co-authored Development Debacle: The World Bank in the Philippines, which was banned by the Marcos regime. Her articles have been published in the Los Angeles Daily Journal and other publications. She served as the communications director of the ACLU of Northern California and editor of the ACLU News for more than two decades.

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