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Appleton, Thomas Gold (31 March 1812–17 April 1884), writer and artist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Nathan Appleton, a merchant, and Maria Theresa Gold. Nathan Appleton, whose family had settled in New England in 1635, helped develop Lowell, Massachusetts, into an industrial center and amassed a fortune that made it possible for Thomas to pursue his interests freely. After a year at the Boston Latin School and three at the Round Hill School conducted by Joseph Green Cogswell and ...

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Banvard, John (15 November 1815–16 May 1891), panoramist, scene painter, and poet, was born in New York City, the son of Daniel Banvard, a building contractor and amateur artist of French ancestry. His mother’s name is unrecorded. Banvard attended school until he was fifteen; an early talent for drawing was nurtured by his father. His youthful enthusiasm for poetry was encouraged by ...

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Benson, Eugene (01 November 1839–28 February 1908), art critic, painter, and essayist, was born in Hyde Park, New York, the son of Benjamin Benson. His mother’s name is not known. He went to New York City in 1856 to study painting at the National Academy of Design; he also learned portraiture in the studio of J. H. Wright. Taking up residence at the New York University Building, he formed close friendships with several other artists who lived there, most notably ...

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Browne, Carl (1846–16 January 1914), political agitator, reform journalist, and organizer of "Coxey's Army", political agitator, reform journalist, and organizer of “Coxey’s Army,” was born in Springfield, Illinois. (The date and place of his birth are sometimes less reliably given as 4 July 1849 in Newton, Iowa). Browne was working as a sign painter in western Iowa in 1869 when he suddenly decided to move to California. At that time he desired more than anything else to paint a gargantuan panorama of the Yosemite Valley. He later exhibited this painting up and down the Pacific Coast, such panoramas being a popular form of folk art in the nineteenth century. One unfriendly critic observed, “As an artist Carl Browne belongs to a distinct school. In fact, he constitutes the entire school.” Browne’s response to critics was to affirm that as a young man he had apprenticed with a carriage and house painter (an experience that probably accounted for his love of huge panoramic images and garish colors such as might adorn a circus wagon)....

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Burgess, Gelett (30 January 1866–18 September 1951), author, editor, and illustrator, was born Frank Gelett Burgess in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Thomas Harvey Burgess, a well-to-do painting contractor, and Caroline Matilda Brooks, a genteel Unitarian. After graduating from the English High School in Boston, Burgess attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned his B.S. in 1887. To avoid perceived restrictions of life in New England, he became a draftsman on survey work with the Southern Pacific Railroad (1888–1891), hiked and sketched his way through France and Spain, and instructed topographical drawing at the University of California at Berkeley (1891–1894). He was dismissed from his academic post for pulling down a cast-iron statue of Henry Cogswell, a prominent local dentist revered as a philanthropic teetotaler. Burgess designed furniture for a San Francisco firm at minimal pay, lived on Russian Hill, and puzzled his neighbors by appearing at odd hours with his 5′ 4″ frame draped in vivid capes....

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Chambers, Robert William (26 May 1865–16 December 1933), artist and writer, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of William Chambers, a lawyer, and Caroline Boughton. His younger brother was noted architect Walter Boughton Chambers. He was educated at the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute and was one of the first students to enroll at the Art Students League in New York City; one of his classmates was ...

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Chaplin, Ralph Hosea (30 August 1887–23 May 1961), radical labor editor and artist, was born in Cloud County, Kansas, the son of Edgar Chaplin and Clara Bradford, farmers. Hard times forced his family to leave Kansas when Chaplin was an infant, and he was raised in Chicago, where his family moved frequently and struggled against poverty....

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Cranch, Christopher Pearse (08 March 1813–20 January 1892), Transcendentalist poet and artist, was born in Alexandria, District of Columbia (now Va.), the son of William Cranch, chief judge of the District of Columbia Circuit Court, and Nancy Greenleaf. He was graduated from Columbian College (now George Washington University) in 1832 and Harvard Divinity School in 1835. Cranch was never ordained, though he served as a Unitarian missionary in New England and the Midwest for a few years....

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E. E. Cummings. Reproduction of a self-portrait in oils. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-108318).

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Cummings, E. E. (14 October 1894–03 September 1962), poet and painter, was born Edward Estlin Cummings in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of Edward Cummings, a Unitarian minister of the South Congregational Church in Boston, and Rebecca Haswell Clarke. Cummings’s mother encouraged him from an early age to write verse and to keep a journal. He was educated at the Cambridge Latin School and at Harvard College, where in 1915 he received his A.B., graduating magna cum laude in Greek and English; he received his A.M. from Harvard in 1916. In his last year of college, he became intensely interested in the new movements in the arts through his association with ...

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Day, Clarence Shepard, Jr. (18 November 1874–28 December 1935), author, illustrator, and humorist, was born in New York City, the son of Clarence Shepard Day, a stockbroker, and Lavinia Elizabeth Stockwell. As the son of a prominent businessman, Day followed the “traditional route” for those in his social class. He was educated at St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire, received a B.A. from Yale in 1896, and went to work with his father. Day, Sr., a governor of the New York Stock Exchange, presented Clarence with a seat on the exchange in 1897, and in 1898 the son became a partner at Clarence S. Day and Company....

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Doolittle, Amos (18 May 1754–31 January 1832), engraver, was born in Cheshire, Connecticut, the son of Ambrose Doolittle and Martha Munson (occupations unknown). Doolittle apprenticed under Eliakim Hitchcock, a silversmith, but he may have taught himself to engrave copper plates. By 1774, he was living in New Haven, where he remained until his death. He appears to have prospered, owning a house and shop on College Street in which he rented out a large room to individuals and organizations, including the Masons, who met there from 1801 to 1826. Doolittle was himself a dedicated Mason from 1792 until his death....

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Dunlap, William (19 February 1766–28 September 1839), dramatist and painter, was born in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, the son of Samuel Dunlap, a merchant, and Margaret Sargent. Dunlap had little formal schooling. He received his education first from his mother and later from a series of tutors. He gained a love of writing and the arts from Thomas Bartow, an aged recluse who read to Dunlap from the classics and introduced him to drawings illustrating the works of Virgil, Homer, and Milton....

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Frost, Arthur Burdett (17 January 1851–22 June 1928), illustrator, painter, and author, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Frost, a bibliographer, and Sarah Ann Burdett, a painter. He was eight years old when his father died, and by the time he was fifteen he was working, first for a wood engraver and then for a lithographer. During these early years he took evening classes at the Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts, working briefly under ...

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Kahlil Gibran Photograph by F. Holland Day, c. 1898. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-48305).

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Gibran, Kahlil (06 January 1883–10 April 1931), poet and painter, was born Gibran Khalil Gibran in Besharri, Lebanon, the son of Khalil Gibran, a gambler and olive grove owner, and Kamila Rahme, a peddler. The boy was named by prefacing his father’s name Khalil with the surname of his paternal grandfather, thus Gibran Khalil Gibran. Although in later years Gibran fabricated stories of his family’s origins and their years in Besharri, factual accounts (particularly Gibran and Gibran, ...

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Goldwater, John L. (14 February 1916–26 February 1999), publisher and writer, was born John Leonard Goldwater in New York City, the son of Daniel Goldwater and Edna Bogart Goldwater, who died during childbirth; the father, reportedly overcome by grief, abandoned the child and died soon afterward. Growing up in a foster home, Goldwater attended the High School of Commerce where he developed secretarial skills and some facility as a writer. At seventeen, he hitchhiked across the country, stopping at Hiawatha, Kansas, where he took a reporting job on the local newspaper. He subsequently moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where he found a position as secretary to the administrator of Grand Canyon National Park, then to Arizona, and eventually on to San Francisco and jobs with the Missouri-Pacific Railroad, and, in rather rapid succession, other employers. After a year or so, he returned to New York. In later years, recounting his youthful employment experiences, Goldwater usually explained that he moved often from job to job because his attentions to young women in each location resulted in his being fired. Back in New York, he worked for various publishers and then became an entrepreneur, buying unsold periodicals, mainly pulp magazines, from publisher Louis H. Silberkleit and exporting them for sale abroad. Observing the success of the Superman character in the infant comic book industry in 1939, he joined Silberkleit and Maurice Coyne in launching a comic book publishing firm with himself as editor (while continuing as president of Periodicals for Export, Inc.), Silberkleit as publisher, and Coyne as bookkeeper....

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Gorey, Edward (22 February 1925–15 April 2000), author and artist, was born Edward St. John Gorey in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Edward Leo Gorey, a newspaperman, and Helen Dunham Garvey Gorey, a government clerk. The couple divorced when their son was eleven and remarried when he was twenty-seven. By the age of three, young Edward had taught himself to read, revealing the precocity that would enable him to skip both first and fifth grades. By the time he was five, he had read ...

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Grosz, George (26 July 1893–06 July 1959), artist and poet, was born Georg Ehrenfried Groß in Berlin, Germany, the son of Karl Groß and Maria Schultze. Grosz spent most of his childhood in Stolp, Pomerania, where his father, a failed restaurateur, became steward of a Freemasons’ Lodge. After his father’s death in 1900, his mother moved for two years to Berlin, where the family lived in meager circumstances; she then took a position as manager of an officers’ club in Stolp. As a boy, Grosz became fascinated with America, especially through the stories of ...

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Marsden Hartley Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1939. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LOT 12735, no. 490 P&P).