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Harriot, Thomas (1560–02 July 1621), scientist, linguist, and author of the first English book on North America, was born in Oxford (city or county), England; his parentage is unknown. As an undergraduate he entered St. Mary’s Hall (attached to Oriel College, Oxford) in 1576, matriculated in the University of Oxford in 1557, and graduated B.A. in 1580. He never married....

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Morse, Edward Sylvester (18 June 1838–20 December 1925), biologist and expert on Japanese culture, was born in Portland, Maine, the son of Jonathan Kimball Morse and Jane Seymour Beckett. His father was a partner in a firm that dealt in beaver furs and buffalo robes, and his mother was said to be “interested in all branches of science.” As a boy Morse collected shells, and at the age of seventeen he joined the Portland Society of Natural History. At the encouragement of other naturalists in the society, Morse began to study the land snails of his state and to correspond with leading American conchologists. After attending preparatory schools he worked as a draftsman in the locomotive shops of the Maine Central Railroad, presumably to save for college. There he demonstrated a fine ability in sketching and creating line drawings, which he used to advantage in his later publications....

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Percival, James Gates (15 September 1795–02 May 1856), poet, linguist, and geologist, was born in Kensington, Connecticut, the son of James Percival, a doctor, and Elizabeth Hart. Percival read widely as a child, a habit he sustained as an adult, and enjoyed from an early age almost total recall. His father, a well-respected and prosperous village physician, died of typhoid in 1807 when Percival was twelve years old, and Percival’s mother sent him away to a boarding school. He began to write poetry during this period, his most impressive effort being “The Commerciad,” a mock-heroic poem of more than 2,000 lines. In 1810 he entered Yale College, studied the natural sciences with ...