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Bowles, Paul (30 December 1910–18 November 1999), composer, fiction writer, and translator, was born Paul Frederick Bowles in Jamaica, New York, the son of Claude Dietz Bowles, a dentist from Elmira, and Rena Winnewisser Bowles, a native of Bellows Falls, Vermont. An only child, Bowles hated his father, a martinet who brooked no interference by his wife when it came to child-rearing. Bowles was three when he taught himself to read. A year later he was writing animal stories, recording personal impressions in a series of leather-bound notebooks, and drawing pictures of houses, streets, and imaginary railroad lines. Commanded to play for an hour daily within a fenced back yard with a view only of buildings and sky, Bowles never saw another child until he was five....

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Grierson, Francis (18 September 1848–29 May 1927), musician, writer, and mystic, was born Benjamin Henry Jesse Francis Shepard in Birkenhead, England, the son of Joseph Shepard and Emily Grierson. When Grierson was less than a year old, the Shepards migrated to central Illinois, where they took up frontier farming and became active in local abolitionist activities. The boy’s parents taught him to read, using the Anglican catechism as a text. In 1858, when the family lived in Alton, Illinois, and during their first residence in St. Louis from 1859 to 1863, he may have had—the record is not clear—a little more than five years of formal schooling....

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Rosenfeld, Paul Leopold (04 May 1890–21 July 1946), music critic, essayist, and novelist, was born in the Mt. Morris section of the Bronx, in New York City, the son of Julius Rosenfeld, a successful manufacturer of textiles, and Sarah Liebmann, of the wealthy Liebmann Brewery family, a serious amateur pianist. His father was steeped in literature, music, and art. When Rosenfeld was ten years old his mother died, and his father sent him to live with his maternal grandmother, who three years later enrolled him at the Riverview Military Academy in Poughkeepsie, New York. He skipped athletics, studied music and literature, and on Saturday afternoons boarded the train for New York City to attend concerts and the theater. In 1908, just as Rosenfeld was about to enter Yale University, his father died....

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Thompson, Kay (9 Nov. 1912 [also reported as 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, and 1913]–02 July 1998), writer and entertainer, was born Katherine (also reported as Kitty) Fink in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of a jeweler. The names of her parents are not recorded. Educated in St. Louis public schools, Kay was a high school classmate of ...

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Carl Van Vechten Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LOT 12735, no. 1122 P&P).

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Van Vechten, Carl (17 June 1880–21 December 1964), writer and photographer, was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the son of Charles Duane Van Vechten, a banker and insurance agent, and Ada Amanda Fitch. Van Vechten entered the University of Chicago in 1899 and graduated in 1903, whereupon he went to work as a society reporter and photographer for the ...