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Aarons, Edward Sidney (1916–16 June 1975), mystery writer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Aarons (also known by the pen names Paul Ayres and Edward Ronns) worked variously as a newspaper reporter, millhand, salesman, and fisherman to support himself while attending Columbia University. In 1933 he won a collegiate short story contest. In 1936, with the publication of his first mystery novel, he decided to make writing his career....

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Abbey, Edward (29 January 1927–14 March 1989), essayist, novelist, and radical ecologist, was born in Home, Pennsylvania, the son of Paul Revere Abbey, a farmer, and Mildred Postlewaite, a public schoolteacher. He was raised, with four siblings, on a hardscrabble farm. A turning point in late adolescence came out of some months of hitchhiking around the western United States, with which he ever after fervently identified himself....

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Abbey, Henry (11 July 1842–07 June 1911), poet, was born in Rondout (now a part of Kingston), New York, the son of Stephen Abbey, a merchant of farm products, and Caroline Vail. His family was moderately successful and able to support his attendance at Kingston Academy, the Delaware Literary Institute in Delhi, New York, and the Hudson River Institute across the river in Columbia County, but the uncertain grain and feed business was insufficient to enable him to attend college....

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Abbott, Joseph Carter (15 July 1825–08 October 1881), senator and journalist, was born in Concord, New Hampshire, the son of Aaron Carter Abbott, a farmer and laborer, and Nancy Badger. After graduating in 1846 from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, Abbott studied law. He began his practice in Concord in 1852, the year he became editor and proprietor of the ...

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Abbott, Lyman (18 December 1835–22 October 1922), Congregational clergyman and editor of the Outlook, Congregational clergyman and editor of the Outlook, was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, the son of Jacob Abbott, a pastor and author of the “Rollo” children’s books, and Harriet Vaughan. Raised in Farmington, Maine, Abbott graduated from New York University with an A.B. in 1853. He then joined his brothers’ law firm, passing the bar examination in 1856. The following year he married Abby Frances Hamlin, and they settled in Brooklyn, New York. There Abbott came under the influence of the nationally renowned preacher ...

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Abbott, Robert Sengstacke (28 November 1868–29 February 1940), newspaper publisher, was born Robert Abbott in Fort Frederica, St. Simons Island, off the coast of Savannah, Georgia, the son of Thomas Abbott and Flora Butler, former slaves who operated a grocery store on St. Thomas Island. Thomas Abbott died the year after Robert was born, and his mother moved to Savannah where she eventually was remarried in 1874 to John Herman Henry Sengstacke. Sengstacke was the son of a German father and a black mother and, although born in the United States, was reared in Germany. He returned to the United States in 1869 and pursued careers in education, the clergy, and journalism. In the latter role Sengstacke became editor of the ...

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Abell, Arunah Sheperdson (10 August 1806–19 April 1888), journalist and publisher, was born in East Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Caleb Abell, a quartermaster in the War of 1812, and Elona Sheperdson. Abell left school at age fourteen and worked for two years in a shop that dealt in West Indian goods. In 1822 he was apprenticed to the ...

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Abrams, Harry Nathan (23 February 1905–25 November 1979), publisher and art collector, was born in London, England, the son of Morris Abrams, a shoe store proprietor, and Amelia Rosenberg. In 1913 the family moved from London to New York City, where Abrams studied at the National Academy of Design and at the Art Students League....

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Adams, Andy (03 May 1859–26 September 1935), writer of novels and stories about the cattle country, was born in Thornecreek Township, Indiana, the son of Andrew Adams, a farmer, and Elizabeth Elliott. His father came from Ireland and his mother’s parents from Scotland. Andy called his parents’ place a “stock farm,” by which he meant that cattle as well as crops were raised there. Young Andy developed a special feeling for cattle, and this feeling was reinforced by his reading of the Bible with its many references to pastoral life. In his maturity Adams often said that cattle possessed “primal values”: humans depended on them and felt affection for their companions “through the ages.”...

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Adams, Charles Follen (21 April 1842–08 March 1918), dialect poet, was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, the son of Ira Adams, the warden of Boston Common, and Mary Elizabeth Senter. Adams was of New England stock, a descendant of the revolutionary patriot Samuel Adams...

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Adams, Cyrus Cornelius (07 January 1849–04 May 1928), geographer and editor, was born in Naperville, Illinois, the son of Cyrus Adams and Cornelia Stevens, farmers. He was raised by his aunt and uncle in Bloomington, Minnesota, and attended the nascent University of Minnesota for a year, continuing at the first University of Chicago. He became a reporter for the Chicago ...

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Adams, Franklin P. (15 November 1881–23 March 1960), newspaper columnist, humorist, and radio personality, was born Franklin Pierce Adams in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Moses Adams, a dry-goods merchant, and Clara Schlossberg, both German-Jewish immigrants. During his childhood he was an avid reader of the classics, history, nineteenth-century fiction, and light verse. He studied mathematics and science at the Armour Scientific Academy in Chicago, graduating in 1899. He attended the University of Michigan for less than a year, during which he studied literature and after which he began to earn his own living....

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Adams, Henry (16 February 1838–27 March 1918), historian, novelist, and critic, was born Henry Brooks Adams in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Charles Francis Adams, a diplomat, legislator, and writer, and Abigail Brooks. He enjoyed unparalleled advantages, chief among them his famous name and many family connections: he was the great-grandson of President ...

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Adams, John (26 March 1705–23 January 1740), poet and minister, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of John Adams, a shopkeeper, and Hannah Checkley. His family relocated in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, several years before the young Adams matriculated at Harvard College. Adams graduated from Harvard in 1721. His connection to ...

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Adams, John Quincy (04 May 1848–03 September 1922), newspaper editor and publisher, civil rights leader, and Republican party activist, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of Henry Adams, a prominent minister and educator, and Margaret Corbin. Both his parents were free persons of color. Following private schooling in Wisconsin and Ohio, Adams graduated from Oberlin College. After a brief teaching stint in Louisville, in 1870 he followed his uncle, Joseph C. Corbin, to work in Arkansas in the Reconstruction. By 1874 he had risen from schoolteacher to assistant superintendent of public instruction. His lifelong activism in the Republican party began in Arkansas; there he twice served as secretary to Republican state conventions, was elected as justice of the peace on the party ticket, and held the offices of engrossing clerk of the state senate and deputy commissioner of public works. The defeat of the Arkansas Republican party in 1874 and the racial repression that followed led Adams to return to Louisville, where he again engaged in teaching....

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Adams, Samuel Hopkins (26 January 1871–16 November 1958), muckraker and writer, was born in Dunkirk, New York, the son of Myron Adams, Jr., a minister, and Hester Rose Hopkins. He attended Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, from 1887 to 1891, with a semester at Union College. After graduation he was a devoted alumnus, serving as trustee (1905–1916), winning election to Phi Beta Kappa (1907), and receiving an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 1926....

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Adams, William Taylor (30 July 1822–27 March 1897), publisher and writer of juvenile fiction, was born in Medway, Massachusetts, the son of Laban Adams, a tavern keeper, and Catherine Johnson. An honors student in the Boston and West Roxbury public schools, he also attended Able Whitney’s private academy for a year after he completed his secondary schooling. He began teaching school while still in his teens but also helped his father manage the family-operated “Adams House” in Boston for a short time. As a young boy, he traveled extensively throughout the country, taking detailed notes on his journeys, many of which he used in later years in his writings. His first published work, an article in the ...

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Adamson, Harold Campbell (10 December 1906–17 August 1980), lyricist, was born in Greenville, New Jersey, the son of James H. Adamson, a building contractor, and Marion Campbell. During his childhood Adamson wrote poetry for his school newspaper and skits for school shows. While studying at the University of Kansas, he wrote songs and worked with a local professional theater company during vacations. From Kansas, Adamson moved on to Harvard University, where he wrote shows and songs for Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Club. Following his graduation from Harvard in 1930, Adamson entered show business as a lyricist for both stage and screen....

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Ade, George (09 February 1866–16 May 1944), humorist, was born in Kentland, Indiana, the son of John Ade, a farmer and bank cashier who was from England, and Adaline Wardell Bush. Ade liked his village school and showed promise in composition classes, hated the farm work his parents assigned him to help with family finances, and received a partial scholarship to attend Purdue, the newly established agricultural and mechanical college in Lafayette, Indiana. His four years there (1883–1887) were both enjoyable and valuable. He studied with reasonable conscientiousness, joined a literary society and the Sigma Chi social fraternity, edited for a semester the student-run monthly literary magazine called the ...

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James Agee Photograph by Walker Evans, 1937. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103100).