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Appleton, Thomas Gold (31 March 1812–17 April 1884), writer and artist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Nathan Appleton, a merchant, and Maria Theresa Gold. Nathan Appleton, whose family had settled in New England in 1635, helped develop Lowell, Massachusetts, into an industrial center and amassed a fortune that made it possible for Thomas to pursue his interests freely. After a year at the Boston Latin School and three at the Round Hill School conducted by Joseph Green Cogswell and ...

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Arensberg, Walter Conrad (04 April 1878–29 January 1954), art collector, poet, and writer, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Conrad Christian Arensberg, an industrialist, and his second wife, Flora Belle Covert. Arensberg attended Harvard University, receiving his B.A. in 1900 with the accolade of class poet. While at Harvard he was an editor of the ...

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Banvard, John (15 November 1815–16 May 1891), panoramist, scene painter, and poet, was born in New York City, the son of Daniel Banvard, a building contractor and amateur artist of French ancestry. His mother’s name is unrecorded. Banvard attended school until he was fifteen; an early talent for drawing was nurtured by his father. His youthful enthusiasm for poetry was encouraged by ...

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Bennett, Gwendolyn (08 July 1902–30 May 1981), writer and artist, was born in Giddings, Texas, the daughter of Joshua Robin Bennett and Mayme F. Abernathy, teachers on a Native American reservation. In 1906 the family moved to Washington, D.C., where Bennett’s father studied law and her mother worked as a manicurist and hairdresser. Her parents divorced and her mother won custody, but her father kidnapped the seven-year-old Gwendolyn. The two, with her stepmother, lived in hiding in various towns along the East Coast and in Pennsylvania before finally settling in New York....

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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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E. E. Cummings. Reproduction of a self-portrait in oils. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-108318).

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Cummings, E. E. (14 October 1894–03 September 1962), poet and painter, was born Edward Estlin Cummings in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of Edward Cummings, a Unitarian minister of the South Congregational Church in Boston, and Rebecca Haswell Clarke. Cummings’s mother encouraged him from an early age to write verse and to keep a journal. He was educated at the Cambridge Latin School and at Harvard College, where in 1915 he received his A.B., graduating magna cum laude in Greek and English; he received his A.M. from Harvard in 1916. In his last year of college, he became intensely interested in the new movements in the arts through his association with ...

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Fenollosa, Ernest Francisco (18 February 1853–21 September 1908), educator, poet, and Orientalist, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, the son of Manuel Francisco Ciriaco Fenollosa, a Spanish musician who had come to the United States in 1838, and Mary Silsbee, who died when Ernest was eleven. After attending Salem High School, the sensitive and reserved young man entered Harvard College, where he studied with ...

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Kahlil Gibran Photograph by F. Holland Day, c. 1898. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-48305).

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Gibran, Kahlil (06 January 1883–10 April 1931), poet and painter, was born Gibran Khalil Gibran in Besharri, Lebanon, the son of Khalil Gibran, a gambler and olive grove owner, and Kamila Rahme, a peddler. The boy was named by prefacing his father’s name Khalil with the surname of his paternal grandfather, thus Gibran Khalil Gibran. Although in later years Gibran fabricated stories of his family’s origins and their years in Besharri, factual accounts (particularly Gibran and Gibran, ...

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Grosz, George (26 July 1893–06 July 1959), artist and poet, was born Georg Ehrenfried Groß in Berlin, Germany, the son of Karl Groß and Maria Schultze. Grosz spent most of his childhood in Stolp, Pomerania, where his father, a failed restaurateur, became steward of a Freemasons’ Lodge. After his father’s death in 1900, his mother moved for two years to Berlin, where the family lived in meager circumstances; she then took a position as manager of an officers’ club in Stolp. As a boy, Grosz became fascinated with America, especially through the stories of ...

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Marsden Hartley Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1939. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LOT 12735, no. 490 P&P).

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Hartley, Marsden (04 January 1877–02 September 1943), artist, essayist, and poet, was born Edmund Hartley in Lewiston, Maine, the son of Thomas Hartley, a spinner in a cotton mill, and Eliza Jane Horbury. His childhood was marred by the death of his mother in 1885, at which time her eight children were separated. Hartley remained with his father and an older married sister, Elizabeth, in Auburn, Maine, until 1889, when his father remarried Martha Marsden, an Englishwoman, and moved with her to Cleveland, Ohio. (In 1908 Hartley dropped his first name and decided to call himself Marsden, his stepmother’s maiden name, which he had adopted in 1906.) Left behind with Elizabeth, Hartley dropped out of school at fifteen and worked in a shoe factory. In 1893 he moved to Cleveland, where he joined his family and took a job as an office boy in a marble quarry....

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Herford, Oliver (01 December 1863–05 July 1935), poet, illustrator, and wit, was born Oliver Brooke Herford in Sheffield, England, the son of Brooke Herford, a Unitarian minister, and Hannah Hankinson. His father, a noted clergyman, editor, and author of hymns, brought his wife and nine children to the United States on a visit in 1875 and was persuaded to remain as minister of the Church of the Messiah in Chicago. In 1882 or 1883 the family moved to Boston, where Dr. Herford served at the Arlington Street Church and as a preacher at Harvard until returning to England in 1893. Oliver studied at a boarding school in Lancaster, England, before coming to the United States, and he attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, from 1877 to 1879. He withdrew to study at the Art Institute of Chicago and later at the Museum of Fine Arts School in Boston. He continued his art studies in Germany, at the Slade School in London, and at the Académie Julian in Paris....

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Linton, William James (07 December 1812–29 December 1897), wood engraver, printer, and poet, was born in London, England, the son of William Linton, an accountant and provision broker, and Mary Stephenson. In 1818 the Lintons moved to Stratford, where he attended Chigwell School, learning some Greek and Latin and reading illustrated miscellanies and novels, including those of Sir Walter Scott. He moved to London in 1828 in order to serve an apprenticeship with George Wilmot Bonner, a wood engraver. Subsequently he worked for two leading engravers, William Henry Powis and John Thompson, and then from 1840 to 1843 for John Orrin Smith. His work appeared in the ...

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Loy, Mina (27 December 1882–25 September 1966), poet and artist, was born Mina Gertrude Lowy in London, England, the daughter of Sigmund Lowy, a tailor, and Julia Bryan. Loy received little formal education but at age seventeen was sent to art school in Munich. In 1901–1902 she returned to England, where she studied with the English painter Augustus John and began to exhibit her painting. It was also during this time that she met her first husband, art student Stephen Haweis (Hugh Oscar William Haweis). In 1903 Loy moved to Paris to study painting, married Haweis, and changed her name to Loy, a change, she remembered, that she “adopted in a spirit of mockery,” in response to her husband’s old and distinguished family name, which was pronounced ”Hoyes“ (Burke, pp. 66, 97). Loy and Haweis had three children; the first daughter died in infancy, the son in his teens....

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Mifflin, Lloyd (15 September 1846–16 July 1921), poet and painter, was born in Columbia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Houston Mifflin, a moderately well-to-do landowner, portrait painter, and poet, and Elizabeth Ann Bethel Heise. Mifflin’s mother died when he was a child, after which his father gave up his career to care for the five children. Mifflin attended elementary schools in Columbia and the Washington Classical Institute there. He was also tutored by his father and by Howard W. Gilbert, who had studied in Heidelberg, Germany. When he began to show an interest in sketching at age fourteen, his father warned him of the problems most artists encounter. Soon recognizing that the boy was serious, however, he proceeded to train him in the basics of draftsmanship and the harmonious use of colors and also encouraged him in landscape drawing....

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O’Neill, Rose Cecil (25 June 1874–06 April 1944), illustrator and writer, was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, the daughter of William Patrick O’Neill, a bookseller, and Alice Asenath Cecelia Smith, a former schoolteacher. At the time of her birth, the O’Neill family occupied “Emerald Cottage,” a picturesque home with cupids and wreaths of roses ornamenting the ceiling in the octagonal living room. It is possible that these cupids, imprinted on her memory, later inspired her famous “Kewpie” illustrations of plump infants with tiny wings. In 1878 her family moved to Omaha, Nebraska, and at the age of thirteen, O’Neill, who attended parochial school, won a prize, awarded by the ...

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Read, Thomas Buchanan (22 March 1822–11 May 1872), poet, painter, and sculptor, was born in Corner Ketch, Chester County, Pennsylvania. Very little is known about his parents. The death of Read’s father in about 1832 propelled the breakup of the family. Thomas was apprenticed to a tailor whose reputedly cruel treatment of the boy prompted him to run away to Philadelphia. He worked for a cigar maker and a grocer before moving, at about age fifteen, to Cincinnati, the home of a married sister. He evidently received little formal education. In Cincinnati he found employment as a sign painter and a cigar maker, and he also worked as an apprentice tombstone carver for the sculptor ...

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Rosenberg, Harold (02 February 1906–11 July 1978), art critic and poet, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Abraham Benjamin, a scholar and poet, and Fanny Edelman. His formal education consisted of a year at City College of New York (1923–1924) and three years at St. Lawrence University, Brooklyn, where he earned a degree in law (1927)....