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Langston Hughes (1901–1967) ranked among the leading figures of the Harlem Renaissance, which refers to the flourishing of Black intellectual and artistic activity in the early to mid-twentieth century. Though best known as a poet, Hughes also wrote fiction, plays, and essays, and he enjoyed a long career that spanned from the late 1920s to the early 1960s. The sheer length of his literary career was a tremendous accomplishment, particularly given the near-constant rejection he faced from critics. White critics either ignored Hughes’s work or else disparaged it as being of little value. For their part, many Black critics rejected what they felt was Hughes’s unappealing portrait of Black life. Despite the challenges levied by the critics, ordinary readers cherished Hughes. The popular support he received, particularly from Black readers, enabled him to become the first Black writer to make a living entirely from his writing and lectures. One key to his popularity is that, throughout his career, Hughes took an interest in the everydayness of Black life. Hughes engaged ordinary experience in accessible language that nonetheless enabled him to capture many of the complexities and contradictions involved in living as a Black person in a racist, majority-white society.