Poet William Stanley Braithwaite was born in Boston, Massachusetts. His father was from the West Indies, his maternal grandmother was a slave in North Carolina, and his mother may have been the daughter of the property owner. By the time he was 12, he was working to help support his family. He took jobs as an errand boy and then as an apprentice at a publishing company, where he learned typesetting and discovered his love of poetry. During his lifetime, Braithwaite edited a number of influential poetry anthologies. He founded a publishing company and became a professor of creative writing at Atlanta University, authoring a biography of the Brontë family and several collections of poems. His admiration for the English Romantic poets John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and William Wordsworth influenced his own poetic style.