Langston Hughes’ Homemade Christmas Cards From 1950


Who doesn’t treasure a hand-crafted provide?

As the years move via, we might start to offload the ill-fitting sweaters, the by no means lit sand cast candles, and the Styrofoam ball snowmen. But a gift product of phrases takes up little or no house, and it has the Ghost of Christmas Past’s energy to right away evoke the sender as they as soon as have been.

Seventy years in the past, poet Langston Hughes, too skint to move Christmas buying groceries, despatched everybody on his reward checklist easy, selfmade vacation postcards. Typed on white cardstock, each and every signed card used to be adorned with pink and inexperienced pencils and mailed for the cost of a three¢ stamp.

As biographer Arnold Rampersad notes:

The ultimate weeks of 1950 discovered him nonetheless in a depression temper, his spirits sinking decrease once more as he once more become a goal of red-baiting.

The yr began auspiciously with The New York Times praising his libretto for The Barrier, an opera in keeping with his play, Mulatto: A Tragedy of the Deep South. But the opera used to be a business flop, and certain critiques for his guide Simple Speaks His Mind did not translate into the hoped-for gross sales.

Although he had lately bought an East Harlem brownstone with an older couple who doted on him as they might a son, offering him with a sunny, best ground workspace, 1950 used to be a long way from his favourite yr.

His typewritten vacation couplets took issues out on a jaunty notice, whilst paying gentle lip provider to his plight.

Maybe we will be able to aspire to the similar…

Hughes’ hand-crafted vacation playing cards live within the Langston Hughes Papers in Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, together with vacation playing cards explicit to the African-American revel in won from pals and colleagues.

by way of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University

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Ayun Halliday is an creator, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Her newest adjust ego, L’Ourse, needs you an overly merry Xmas and peace and well being within the New Year  Follow her @AyunHalliday.


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