By the late 1890s Dunbar had earned major acclaim for his writing. He wrote poetry, novels, and lyrics for musicals. In 1899 he contracted tuberculosis, a respiratory disease then usually fatal.
Dunbar came home to Dayton. Here he lived his last two years in this, the house he had purchased for his mother. He died here in 1906 at age 33. He is buried in Woodland Cemetery, near his friends Wilbur and Orville Wright.
[Small inset photo caption] Matilda Dunbar loved to bask in her sun-filled side yard. A former enslaved person without a formal education, she encouraged her son Paul to read, write, and publish poetry and novels.