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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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Child, Francis James (01 February 1825–11 September 1896), philologist and editor, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Joseph Child, a sailmaker, and Mary James. After attending the Boston Latin School, he matriculated at Harvard College; he ranked first in his class and was elected class orator. Following his graduation in 1846, he became a tutor in mathematics at his alma mater and then, in 1848, in history and political economy. Also in 1848 he published his edition of ...

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Elwyn, Alfred Langdon (09 July 1804–15 March 1884), philanthropist and author, was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the son of Thomas Elwyn and Elizabeth Langdon, occupations unknown. His maternal grandfather, John Langdon, was the first continental governor of New Hampshire and presiding officer of the first U.S. Senate. Reared amid affluence and the socially prominent, Alfred graduated from Harvard as Langdon Elwyn in 1823. He then attended lectures by Dr. Gorham in Boston and other noted physicians in Europe (1826–1829), returning for formal medical study at the University of Pennsylvania, from which he received his degree in medicine in 1831. In 1832 he married Mary Middleton Mease. They had two children....

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Follett, Wilson (21 March 1887–07 January 1963), author and editor, was born Roy Wilson Follett in North Attleboro, Massachusetts, the son of Charles William Follett, a worker in a jewelry-manufacturing shop, and Cordelia Adelaide White Follett, a former teacher. After attending public schools in North Attleboro, he was an exemplary student at Harvard College, earning his B.A. in 1909, with a major in English and valuable study under ...

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Funk, Isaac Kauffman (10 September 1839–04 April 1912), publisher and reformer, was born near Clifton, Ohio, the son of John Funk and Martha Kauffman, farmers. Funk graduated from Wittenberg College in 1860 and from its theological seminary the following year. He subsequently held pastorates at Lutheran churches near Moreshill, Indiana, and in Carey, Ohio, before moving to St. Matthews’ English Lutheran Church in Brooklyn, New York, where he remained the longest. In 1863 he married Eliza Thompson; they had two children. The year after his wife’s death in 1868 he married her sister, Helen G. Thompson. The couple had one son....

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Leonard, William Ellery (25 January 1876–02 May 1944), philologist, poet, and dramatist, was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, the son of the Reverend William James Leonard and Martha Whitcomb. Named after the famous Unitarian minister William Ellery Channing (1780–1842), he dropped Channing by the time he reached college. Reverend Leonard, himself a native of Plainfield, had been a Baptist minister in Chicago but suddenly resigned his pastorate when he could no longer accept the religious beliefs of his congregation. At the time of Ellery’s birth he was editor of the ...

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Moore, Clement Clarke (15 July 1779–10 July 1863), scholar and poet, was born in New York City, the son of Benjamin Moore, a clergyman, and Charity Clarke. Moore graduated from Columbia in 1798 as class valedictorian.

Although Moore had prepared for the ministry, he was never ordained, preferring the life of the scholar, somewhat in the style of the traditional polemical divine, of anti-Jeffersonian bent. In 1804 he published ...

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Ord, George (04 March 1781–24 January 1866), naturalist, writer, and lexicographer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of George Ord, a retired sea captain who in 1798 became a ship chandler and rope maker, and Rebecca Lindemeyer. Educated in Philadelphia, Ord devoted himself from an early age to the study of science and literature. He entered his father’s rope-making business in 1800 and continued the business after his father’s death in 1806; he retired from the business in 1829 to devote more time to his avocational interests. In 1804 Ord married Margarette Biays, with whom he had three children, only one of whom survived infancy....

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Otis, Brooks (10 June 1908–26 July 1977), classical philologist and literary critic, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Edward Otis, a doctor, and Marion Faxon. Like his father before him, Otis attended Phillips Exeter Academy, from which he graduated in 1925, and proceeded to Harvard (B.A., 1929). He received his M.A. in Latin from Harvard in 1930 and taught classical languages for two years (1930–1932) at Earlham College in Indiana. He returned to Harvard, where he earned his Ph.D. in classical philology in 1935 with a dissertation written in Latin under the direction of ...

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Rosten, Leo (11 April 1908–19 February 1997), writer, was born in Lodz, Poland, to Samuel C. Rosten and Ida Freundlich Rosten. (His full name was Leo Calvin Rosten.) His parents emigrated three years after his birth and settled in Chicago, where he was educated in the city's public schools and grew up in a traditional Jewish household. After high school he attended the University of Chicago, graduating with a degree in philosophy in 1930. He then taught English in night school to newly arrived immigrants and began contributing both comic pieces and serious articles on political issues to major magazines as a means of paying for graduate studies in political science at the university. He also studied briefly at the London School of Economics before receiving a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1937....

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Smith, Logan Pearsall (18 October 1865–02 March 1946), essayist, philologist, and critic, was born Lloyd Logan Pearsall Smith in Millville, New Jersey, the son of Robert Pearsall Smith, a wealthy partner in the family glass-bottle factory, and Hannah Whitall Smith. Both parents were Quakers but later became influential revivalist preachers and tract writers. In 1868 the family moved to Philadelphia and in 1872 vacationed in England. Smith’s education was sporadic but excellent: he attended the Friends’ William Penn Charter School, Philadelphia (1880–1881), Haverford College (1881–1884), and Harvard University (1884–1885). In 1885, when he was a guest at his older sister Mary’s wedding ceremony in Oxford, England, he resolved to take classes there eventually. After a year of study at Berlin University and an unhappy year in the family business, he persuaded his father in 1887 to give him enough money so that he could live simply and never have to work again. His father settled $25,000 on him, and he entered Balliol College, Oxford, in 1888. That same year his family moved permanently to a country house outside London, where visitors included ...

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Vizetelly, Frank Horace (02 April 1864–21 December 1938), lexicographer and editor, was born Francis Horace Vizetelly in Kensington, London, England, to Henry Richard Vizetelly and Elizabeth Anne Ansell, a school teacher. His father, uncle, and two step-brothers were important English journalists, writers, and publishers of Italian descent. From 1865 to 1872 Henry Vizetelly was foreign correspondent to the ...