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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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Allen, Young John William (03 January 1836–30 May 1907), missionary, educator, and journalist in China, was born in Burke County, Georgia, the son of Andrew Young John Allen and Jane Wooten. Because of the early death of both parents, Allen was raised by an aunt and uncle, Wiley and Nancy (Wooten) Hutchins, who lived in Meriwether County, Georgia. He received a sizable inheritance from his father, which financed his education at several small private schools near his home in Starrsville, Georgia, including the Baptist-run Brownwood Institute in LaGrange, Georgia, and the Morgan H. Looney schools in Palmetto, Georgia. His inheritance also allowed him to collect a personal library, which made him the envy of his classmates as early as 1850, when he was only fourteen years old. He began college work at Emory and Henry College in Virginia in 1853 but transferred to Emory College in Oxford, Georgia, in the spring of 1854. At Emory, Allen acquired the secular learning of the European tradition as well as knowledge of Christianity. His extracurricular activities included membership in a debating society and religious study groups, both of which prepared him for his subsequent careers in China....

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Ambrose, Stephen Edward (10 January 1936–13 October 2002), historian and biographer, was born in Decatur, Illinois, the middle son of Stephen Hedges Ambrose, a family physician, and Rosepha Trippe Ambrose. Rosepha raised her sons on a family farm in Whitewater, Wisconsin, during World War II after her husband enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Stephen Ambrose greatly admired the returning veterans who had served in the global conflict. The teamwork they had learned in the service, Ambrose would later write, enabled these men to build “modern America” (...

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Ardrey, Robert (16 October 1908–14 January 1980), anthropologist, playwright, and novelist, was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Robert Lesley Ardrey, an editor and publisher, and Marie Haswell. Ardrey earned a Ph.D. in the natural and social sciences from the University of Chicago in 1930. After taking a writing course taught by ...

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Armour, Richard Willard (15 July 1906–28 February 1989), educator and satirist, was born in San Pedro, California, the son of Harry Willard Armour, a drugstore owner, and Sue Wheelock. He earned a B.A. degree from Pomona College in 1927 and an M.A. from Harvard in 1928. In 1932 he married Kathleen Fauntleroy Stevens, with whom he had two children....

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Arvin, Newton (23 August 1900–22 March 1963), literary critic and educator, was born Frederick Newton Arvin, Jr., in Valparaiso, Indiana, the son of Frederick Newton Arvin, Sr., an insurance agent often away on business, and Jessie Hawkins. Arvin was rather dominated by his mother, grandmother, and four sisters, and was unfortunately regarded by his jeering father as weak and effeminate. After graduating from his local high school, he attended Harvard University (where he was greatly influenced by ...

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Ascoli, Max (25 June 1898–01 January 1978), political philosopher, editor, and publisher, was born in Ferrara, Italy, the son of Enrico Ascoli, a coal merchant, and Adriana Finzi. Despite serious problems with his eyesight, which were to plague him much of his life, Ascoli earned his LL.D. at the University of Ferrara in 1920 and his Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Rome in 1928. His first book, a study of the radical French thinker and writer Georges Sorel, appeared in 1921. An opponent of fascism from its beginnings, Ascoli wrote articles for ...

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Auslander, Joseph (11 October 1897–22 June 1965), poet, editor, and translator, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Louis Auslander and Martha Asyueck. He attended Columbia University from 1914 to 1915, then transferred to Harvard, receiving his B.A. in 1917. In 1919 he became an instructor in English at Harvard. He pursued graduate studies there until 1924, with the interruption of one year (1921–1922) at the Sorbonne in Paris, where he went on a Parker Traveling Fellowship. His poetry began to appear in national magazines in 1919, and his first volume, ...

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Bacon, Leonard (26 May 1887–01 January 1954), poet, literary critic, and teacher, was born in Solvay, New York, the son of Nathaniel Terry Bacon, a chemical engineer, and Helen Hazard. Bacon led a sheltered life at his mother’s familial estate in Peace Dale, Rhode Island. His parents enrolled him in 1898 in St. George’s at Newport, where he spent seven years preparing to matriculate at Yale, following in the footsteps not only of his father but of some twenty other relatives. Bacon gives candid insight into his college years, remembering colleagues and professors in an amiable light though remarking that “with the exception of English and German, I think we were not particularly well taught, or rather that the conception of teaching was poor” ( ...

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Bacon, Leonard Woolsey (01 January 1830–12 May 1907), minister and author, was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of Leonard Bacon, a minister, and Lucy Johnson. Bacon graduated from Yale College in 1850. Beginning in September of that year he accompanied his father on a year-long tour of Europe and the East. When he returned to the United States, Bacon spent two years at Andover Theological Seminary and one year at Yale Divinity School, graduating from the latter in 1854. He turned next to medical study and received a degree from Yale Medical School in 1856....

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Bainton, Roland Herbert (30 March 1894–13 February 1984), historian of the Protestant Reformation, was born in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, England, the only son of James Herbert Bainton, a Congregational pastor, and Charlotte Eliza Blackham. Bainton’s family moved to Vancouver, British Columbia (1898), and then to Colfax, Washington (1902). He received the traditional British-inspired education in the classics, beginning the study of Latin at twelve and adding German at thirteen. The elder Bainton encouraged his reading and inquiry, and their discussions continued by mail after Bainton entered college. Bainton graduated from Whitman College (B.A. in classics, 1910–1914), Yale Divinity School (B.D., 1914–1917), and Yale University (Ph.D. in Semitics and Hellenistic Greek, 1917–1921)....

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Baker, Carlos Heard (05 May 1909–18 April 1987), educator, author, and literary critic, was born in Biddeford, Maine, the son of Arthur Baker and Edna Heard. He grew up in what he called a “yankee and the nineteenth century German” tradition and had a great passion for literature even as a child. While still a college student, he published a collection of poems, ...

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Bangs, John Kendrick (27 May 1862–21 January 1922), humorist, editor, and lecturer, was born in Yonkers, New York, the son of Francis Nehemiah Bangs, a lawyer, and Frances Amelia Bull, and the grandson of Nathan Bangs, a Methodist clergyman. His ancestors were domineering and ferocious personalities whose achievements overshadowed Bangs’s career, and his perennial reluctance to take either religion or law seriously can be seen as a mild rebellion....

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Barnard, Henry (24 January 1811–05 July 1900), educator and editor, was born in Hartford, Connecticut, the son of Chauncey Barnard, a sea captain and farmer, and Betsey Andrews. Barnard spent his formative years in Connecticut and graduated from Yale in 1830. Immediately after college he taught school in Pennsylvania for a year and loathed it. He then read law and was admitted to the Connecticut bar in 1834; however, he never practiced. During the winter of 1832–1833 he spent three months in Washington, D.C., where he met many of the leading political figures of the day, and then traveled in the South. Still lacking direction, he embarked on a grand tour of Europe in March 1835; the impetus for the trip was his selection as one of the Connecticut delegates to the London international peace congress. While in England he was introduced to a number of the foremost Whig intellectuals, politicians, and reformers; at the time he seemed to be primarily interested in the cause of prison reform. After touring England he spent six months on the Continent before returning home to attend his ailing father....

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Bartlett, John (14 June 1820–03 December 1905), editor, publisher, and lexicographer, was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the son of William Bartlett and Susan Thacher. Bartlett’s love of words manifested itself at an early age: at three years he was reciting verses from the Bible; by nine he had read it from cover to cover. Educated in Plymouth’s public schools, he left school at the age of sixteen. Soon after, he took a job at a bookbinding company that was then associated with the University Book Store serving Harvard University in Cambridge. His copious memory and love of books soon had the university faculty and students using him as a ready reference tool. “Ask John Bartlett” was the frequent answer to most questions. To help his memory, Bartlett began keeping a notebook of common phrases and quotations....

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Barzun, Jacques (30 November 1907–25 October 2012), historian, essayist, and cultural critic, was born Jacques-Henri-Louis-Roger Barzun in Créteil, near Paris, France, to Henri-Martin and Anne Rose Barzun. His father was a poet who, with other aspiring young writers, had founded a colony of artists called L’Abbaye after the dilapidated house they occupied in the small Parisian suburb. After moving to the nearby town of Passy, the Barzun family hosted a diverse group of musicians, painters, sculptors, and poets—...

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Beach, Joseph Warren (14 January 1880–13 August 1957), educator, literary critic, and poet, was born in Gloversville, New York, the son of Eugene Beach, a physician, and Sarah Jessup Warren. After graduating from a public high school there, he attended the University of Minnesota, where his uncle Cyrus Northrop was president. He earned his B.A. in English in 1900 and moved on to Harvard University, where he received his M.A. in 1902 and his Ph.D. in 1907, both in English. At Harvard Beach studied under philosopher ...

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Beer, Thomas (22 November 1888?–18 April 1940), writer, was born in Council Bluffs, Iowa, the son of William Collins Beer, a corporate attorney and lobbyist, and Martha Ann Alice Baldwin. Though born in western Iowa, Thomas Beer spent most of his childhood in Yonkers, New York, with summers in Nantucket and on his grandfather’s farm in Bucyrus, Ohio. Wealth and position from his father’s Wall Street business gave Beer a distinct sense of social superiority, which he manifested in personal relations and cultural criticisms. Despising the bourgeoisie, the working-class masses, and the chic lifestyles of the Jazz Age, Beer projected an image of extreme conservatism and tesselated sophistication. At Yale, class of 1911, he was class poet, lifelong friend of the actor Monty Wooley, editor of the literary review, and contributor of twenty stories, essays, and poems. After college he spent five years as a dilatory student in the Columbia law school and as clerk in his father’s law firm, but when his father died at his professional nadir in 1916, Beer turned to letters. His first important short story—“The Brothers”—was published a few months later in the ...

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Bell, James Madison (03 April 1826–1902), abolitionist, poet, and lecturer, was born in Gallipolis, Ohio. His parents’ identities are unknown. At age sixteen, in 1842, he moved to Cincinnati. While there, in 1848, he married Louisiana Sanderlin (or Sanderline), with whom he had several children, and also learned the plastering trade from his brother-in-law George Knight. Bell worked as a plasterer during the day and attended Cincinnati High School for Colored People at night. Founded in 1844 by Reverend Hiram S. Gilmore, the school had a connection to Oberlin College and was said to have given impetus to the sentiment found in ...

Image

Henry Walton Bibb. Lithograph on paper, 1847, by Unidentified Artist. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.