Alice Ruth Moore was born to a racially-mixed, middle-class family in New Orleans, Louisiana. In 1892, she graduated from Straight University (now Dillard) and began her career as a teacher. Her first collection of short stories and poems, Violets and Other Tales, was published in 1895 in The Monthly Review. In 1898, she married Paul Laurence Dunbar, a poet and journalist, after a courtship by correspondence that began when he saw Alice's picture printed with one of her poems. She moved with him to Washington, D.C. Paul Dunbar provide to be an alcoholic and abusive husband, and Alice left him in 1902 and moved to Wilmington, Delaware, where she taught at Howard University. She continued to publish under the name Alice Dunbar. Many of her short stories and plays were rejected by publishers and producers because they focused on racial oppression. She also wrote poetry, essays, and newspaper articles. In 1913-1914, she was co-editor and writer for the A.M.E. Review, one of the most influential church publications of the era. She published Masterpieces of Negro Eloquence in 1914. The collection Caroling Dusk (1927) included "I Sit and Sew," her powerful poem about World War I. She became a field organizer for the women's suffrage movement and campaigned for the passage of the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill. After her third marriage in 1916 to Robert J. Nelson, a poet and civil rights activist, she used the surname Dunbar-Nelson. In 1920, she edited and published The Dunbar Speaker and Entertainer, a literary and news magazine aimed at a Black audience. With Nelson, she co-edited the Wilmington Advocate. She became a successful columnist for various newspapers and a popular public speaker. Her diary was published in 1984.