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Bulfinch, Thomas (15 July 1796–27 May 1867), man of letters famous for a popularizing book on mythology, was born in Newton, Massachusetts, the son of Charles Bulfinch, an architect, and Hannah Apthorp. Although he was born at the height of an extended period of financial difficulties for his father, he was able to enroll at Harvard in 1811 and graduate in 1814. Upon graduation he taught for one year at Boston Latin School. He was a devoted and successful teacher, but at the end of the year he decided to pursue a career in business and became a salesman in his brother Charles’s hardware firm. In 1818 he followed his family to Washington where he worked as a salesman of construction materials. In 1825 he returned to Boston and was a partner in a textile firm but, owing to his temperament and a self-confessed lack of business acumen, had little success. In 1837 he withdrew from private business and became collection clerk at the Merchants’ Bank of Boston....

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Campbell, Joseph (26 March 1904–30 October 1987), teacher and author, was born in New York City, the son of Charles William Campbell, a businessman, and Josephine Lynch. Raised a Roman Catholic, Campbell as a boy was attracted to Native American art and culture and read Indian historical and ethnographic literature while still in grade school. After a year at Dartmouth, he went to Columbia (B.A., 1925), where he studied literature and became a track star. He remained at Columbia for two more years, earning an M.A. in 1927 with a thesis on medieval Arthurian literature. Planning to pursue his Ph.D., he accepted a two-year fellowship to study Old French and Provençal at the University of Paris (1927–1928) and Sanskrit and Oriental philosophy at the University of Munich (1928–1929)....