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Browne, Carl (1846–16 January 1914), political agitator, reform journalist, and organizer of "Coxey's Army", political agitator, reform journalist, and organizer of “Coxey’s Army,” was born in Springfield, Illinois. (The date and place of his birth are sometimes less reliably given as 4 July 1849 in Newton, Iowa). Browne was working as a sign painter in western Iowa in 1869 when he suddenly decided to move to California. At that time he desired more than anything else to paint a gargantuan panorama of the Yosemite Valley. He later exhibited this painting up and down the Pacific Coast, such panoramas being a popular form of folk art in the nineteenth century. One unfriendly critic observed, “As an artist Carl Browne belongs to a distinct school. In fact, he constitutes the entire school.” Browne’s response to critics was to affirm that as a young man he had apprenticed with a carriage and house painter (an experience that probably accounted for his love of huge panoramic images and garish colors such as might adorn a circus wagon)....

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Cranch, Christopher Pearse (08 March 1813–20 January 1892), Transcendentalist poet and artist, was born in Alexandria, District of Columbia (now Va.), the son of William Cranch, chief judge of the District of Columbia Circuit Court, and Nancy Greenleaf. He was graduated from Columbian College (now George Washington University) in 1832 and Harvard Divinity School in 1835. Cranch was never ordained, though he served as a Unitarian missionary in New England and the Midwest for a few years....

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Goldwater, John L. (14 February 1916–26 February 1999), publisher and writer, was born John Leonard Goldwater in New York City, the son of Daniel Goldwater and Edna Bogart Goldwater, who died during childbirth; the father, reportedly overcome by grief, abandoned the child and died soon afterward. Growing up in a foster home, Goldwater attended the High School of Commerce where he developed secretarial skills and some facility as a writer. At seventeen, he hitchhiked across the country, stopping at Hiawatha, Kansas, where he took a reporting job on the local newspaper. He subsequently moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where he found a position as secretary to the administrator of Grand Canyon National Park, then to Arizona, and eventually on to San Francisco and jobs with the Missouri-Pacific Railroad, and, in rather rapid succession, other employers. After a year or so, he returned to New York. In later years, recounting his youthful employment experiences, Goldwater usually explained that he moved often from job to job because his attentions to young women in each location resulted in his being fired. Back in New York, he worked for various publishers and then became an entrepreneur, buying unsold periodicals, mainly pulp magazines, from publisher Louis H. Silberkleit and exporting them for sale abroad. Observing the success of the Superman character in the infant comic book industry in 1939, he joined Silberkleit and Maurice Coyne in launching a comic book publishing firm with himself as editor (while continuing as president of Periodicals for Export, Inc.), Silberkleit as publisher, and Coyne as bookkeeper....

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Gorey, Edward (22 February 1925–15 April 2000), author and artist, was born Edward St. John Gorey in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Edward Leo Gorey, a newspaperman, and Helen Dunham Garvey Gorey, a government clerk. The couple divorced when their son was eleven and remarried when he was twenty-seven. By the age of three, young Edward had taught himself to read, revealing the precocity that would enable him to skip both first and fifth grades. By the time he was five, he had read ...

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Moore, Donald Wynkoop (1905?–07 April 1986), magazine editor and writer, best known for his work on comic strips and teleplays. His birthplace and his parents’ names and occupations are unknown. He graduated second in his class with a bachelor’s degree in English from Dartmouth College in 1925. For several years after graduation he worked as a journalist, first in his parents’ hometown of Miami, Florida, at the ...

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Ripley, Robert LeRoy (26 December 1893–27 May 1949), cartoonist and creator of the newspaper feature "Believe-It-or-Not", cartoonist and creator of the newspaper feature “Believe-It-or-Not,” was born LeRoy Ripley in Santa Rosa, California, the son of Isaac Davis Ripley, a carpenter, and Lily Belle Yucca (or Yocka). Throughout his life he claimed 25 December as his birthday because, he said, he preferred it that way....

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James Thurber With Peggy Cass, left, and Joan Anderson, 1960.

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Thurber, James (08 December 1894–02 November 1961), writer and cartoonist, was born James Grover Thurber in Columbus, Ohio, the son of Charles Leander Thurber, a political clerk, and Mary Agnes Fisher. In 1901 the Thurbers moved to Falls Church, Virginia, near Washington, where Thurber’s father had a job as secretary for a congressman. The next year, Thurber was blinded in his left eye by an arrow in a game of William Tell with his two brothers. That year, Thurber’s father lost his job when his employer was not renominated, and the family returned to Columbus. Thurber attended local schools and was elected president of his senior class at East High, from which he graduated with honors in 1913. He enrolled at Ohio State University but dropped out in his sophomore year “just to read.” He returned in 1915, became an editor of the college daily newspaper and editor in chief of the humor monthly magazine, acted for the drama club, and formed a close friendship with classmate ...