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Mabel Dodge Luhan Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1934. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-106861).


Luhan, Mabel Dodge (26 February 1879–13 August 1962), writer and patron, was born in Buffalo, New York, the daughter of Charles Ganson and Sarah Cook, members of the upper class who lived on inherited wealth. Like most Victorian women of her class, Luhan was educated to charm and groomed to marry. Stultified emotionally and intellectually at home and at the various finishing (or boarding) schools she attended, she worked throughout her life to create a world that would simultaneously establish her identity and serve as a model for the larger European and American communities that surrounded her. She moved from one “cosmos,” as she called them, to the next, with the expectation that each would provide the answer to her own and her contemporaries’ need to connect with something larger than the dying legacy of individualism left them by late Victorian culture....


Morris, Wright (06 January 1910–25 April 1998), writer, was born Wright Marion Morris in Central City, Nebraska, to William Henry Morris, a railroad employee and failed chicken farmer, and his wife, Ethel Grace Osborn Morris. His mother died when Wright was only six days old, and his father, who was something of a ladies' man, had a series of girlfriends who were indifferent to his son. When Wright was eight, his father married a teenage dancer who soon abandoned the family. Father and son then moved around the state several times before settling in Omaha in 1919....


Roerich, Nicholas (09 October 1874–13 December 1947), artist, author, humanitarian, was born Nicholas Konstantinovich Roerich in St. Petersburg, Russia, the son of Konstantin Roerich, a lawyer and notary, and Maria Kalashnikova Roerich. He was raised in the comfortable environment of an upper-middle-class Russian family and enjoyed contact with the writers, artists, and scientists who often came to visit. At an early age he showed a curiosity and talent for archeology, paleontology, botany, and geology. The young Roerich also showed a particular aptitude for drawing, and at the age of sixteen he began to think about pursuing a career as an artist. In 1893, to satisfy his father, who did not consider painting to be a fit vocation for a responsible member of society, Nicholas enrolled in both the Academy of Art and St. Petersburg University, where he studied law....