Langston Hughes began writing in high school, and even at this early age was developing the voice that made him famous. Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri, but lived with his grandmother in Lawrence, Kansas until he was thirteen and then with his mother in Lincoln, Illinois and Cleveland, Ohio where he went to high school. During the time Hughes lived with his grandmother, however, she was old and poor and unable to give Hughes the attention he needed. Besides, Hughes felt hurt by both his mother and his father, and was unable to understand why he was not allowed to live with either of them. These feelings of rejection caused him to grow up very insecure and unsure of himself.
Money was a nagging concern for Hughes throughout his life. While he managed to support himself as a writer, no small task, he was never financially secure. In 1947, however, through his work writing the lyrics for the Broadway musical “Street Scene,” Hughes was finally able to earn enough money to purchase a house in Harlem, which had been his dream. He continued to write: “Montage of a Dream Deferred,” one of his best known volumes of poetry, was published in 1951; and from that time until his death sixteen years later he wrote more than twenty additional works.