When Malindy Sings
- Dunbar, Paul Laurence

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Commentary

The third Dunbar book, When Malindy Sings (1903), was the last to be illustrated by the HICC as a whole. By this time, the publisher, Dodd, Mead, & Co. had become highly pleased with the format, and high sales led them to commission this third volume. Dunbar, too, was amenable to publishing these books: though his role in the creation of the volumes was relaxed, Sapirstein infers that Dunbar ‘approved of the formula and the quality of the participation’ offered by the Camera Club. (Sapirstein, ‘Picturing Dunbar’s Lyrics,’ p.332.)

As a book review in the Hampton Institute’s own magazine, the Southern Workman, commented, ‘Any effort to substitute scenes from life for the caricatures that are generally used in illustrating Negro dialect stories and poems is to be welcomed.’ (Book review, ‘When Malindy Sings,’ Southern Workman, December 1903, p.631.) Indeed, there has been much discussion as to the potentially racial undertones to these illustrated volumes and whether or not, to quote the title of one article, Dunbar was ‘a credit to his race’ in allowing his poetry to be used in such a problematically racial manner. (Lillian S. Robinson and Greg Robinson, ‘Paul Laurence Dunbar: A Credit to His Race?’ African American Review, vol. 41, no. 2 (Summer, 2007), pp.215-225.) Though lacking the darker tone of the later volumes, a definite change in focus is discernable in When Malindy Sings.

Book Details

Author: Dunbar, Paul Laurence
Title: When Malindy Sings
Publication Year: 1903
Poets Featured: Dunbar, Paul Laurence
Photographers Featured: Hampton Institute Camera Club

This book can be found on the Internet Archive HERE

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