Georgia Douglas Johnson (1877-1966) was born Georgia Blanche Douglas Camp in Atlanta, Georgia. She graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory in 1903 and moved to Washington with her husband Henry Lincoln Johnson in 1910. It was in Washington that Johnson's writing career flourished, making her a nationally recognized figure of the New Negro Renaissance. Her first book of poetry, Heart of a Woman, was published in 1916, followed by Bronze: A Book of Verse in 1922. An Autumn Love Cycle, published in 1928, established Johnson as a leading national poet. Her final book of poetry, Share My World, was published in 1962. Johnson also wrote songs, short stories, plays, and a syndicated newspaper column titled "Homely Philosophy." Johnson was not able to live off her earnings as a writer. She held a number of jobs, including a stint as a conciliator with the Labor Department from 1925 until 1940. As Commissioner of Conciliation, she was charged with investigating the conditions under which workers lived. She also held temporary positions as a substitute teacher and a file clerk.
Her husband, Henry Lincoln Johnson, is not as well known. Also born in Atlanta, Georgia, he worked there as a lawyer and politician. Once the Johnsons moved to Washington, he opened a law practice. In 1912 President William Howard Taft appointed him recorder of deeds for the city. He died in 1925.
During the 1920s and 1930s, the Johnson home served as a literary salon on Saturday evenings, welcoming such luminaries as Mary Burrill, Alice Dunbar Nelson, Angelina Grimke, Langston Hughes, Alain Locke, Kelly Miller, and Willis Richardson. Regular participant Jean Toomer had originally suggested the gatherings. Johnson organized and ran an international correspondence club from 1930 to 1965. Through this club she corresponded with prisoners and invited them to her home after their release.