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Barnes, Djuna (12 June 1892–19 June 1982), writer, was born Djuna Chappell Barnes in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York, the daughter of Wald Barnes (born Henry Budington, recorded as Buddington), a musician, and Elizabeth Chappell. She was raised mostly in her birthplace, Fordham, and Huntington, Long Island, New York. The Barnes family, which believed in sexual freedom, included four brothers by Djuna’s mother, plus Wald’s mistress Fanny Faulkner and their three children; they were supported largely by Wald’s mother, Zadel Barnes Budington Gustafson, a journalist and suffragist. Djuna’s parents and grandmother Zadel tutored the children, especially in the arts. With the blessing of her father and grandmother (over the objections of her mother), at seventeen Djuna eloped with a soap salesman, Percy Faulkner, brother of Fanny Faulkner, but stayed with him only a few weeks. Djuna attended school sporadically, if at all; later she attended Pratt Institute (1913) and the Art Students League of New York (1915), studying life drawing and illustration....

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Chambers, Robert William (26 May 1865–16 December 1933), artist and writer, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of William Chambers, a lawyer, and Caroline Boughton. His younger brother was noted architect Walter Boughton Chambers. He was educated at the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute and was one of the first students to enroll at the Art Students League in New York City; one of his classmates was ...

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Foote, Mary Anna Hallock (19 November 1847–25 June 1938), illustrator and author, was born on a farm near Milton, New York, the daughter of Nathaniel Hallock and Ann Burling, farmers. When Foote wrote her reminiscences (published posthumously in 1972 as A Victorian Gentlewoman in the Far West...

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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 ...

Article

Jamison, Cecilia Viets (1837?–11 April 1909), painter and writer, was born in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada, the daughter of Viets Dakin and Elizabeth Bruce. Her Tory family had left the United States during the American Revolution. They resettled in Nova Scotia, where her paternal relatives had lived, including her great-grandfather, the Reverend Roger Viets, who was vicar general of Canada. When she was a teenager, she and her family moved back to the United States, settling in Boston. There and in New York she attended private schools, where she studied to be an artist....

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Nugent, Richard Bruce (02 July 1906–27 May 1987), artist and writer, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Richard Henry Nugent, Jr., a Pullman porter and Capitol elevator operator, and Pauline Minerva Bruce Nugent. Although his mother's family was prominent among Washington's African-American elite, the Nugents were of modest means. A precocious child, Nugent read widely in his father's larger-than-average library. He was only thirteen years old and already attending Washington's renowned Dunbar High School when his father died of “galloping consumption.” Shortly thereafter his mother moved to New York City, where she secured employment as a waitress and maid. Nugent and his brother Gary Lambert “Pete” Nugent remained with relatives in Washington for a few months, then joined their mother in New York. Bruce Nugent secured employment as a delivery boy and later as a bellhop. His job as an errand boy and art apprentice at the catalog house of Stone, Van Dresser and Company was the beginning of his career in the arts. His brother Pete, who learned tap dancing on the streets, dropped out of school to dance professionally. During the 1930s Pete Nugent's group “Pete, Peaches and Duke” was America's top “class act,” performing in a characteristically elegant, precise, and graceful style....

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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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Charles M. Russell. Photographic print, late nineteenth or early twentieth century. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-114799).

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Russell, Charles Marion (19 March 1864–24 October 1926), artist and author, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Charles Silas Russell, a wealthy businessman, and Mary Elizabeth Mead. As a child, Russell always preferred modeling in clay, drawing, and playing hooky. In 1879 his parents sent him to a military academy in New Jersey, but after a year they relented and allowed him to realize his dream of becoming a cowboy. He moved to the Judith Basin in Montana, where he tended sheep (1880), did chores for a hunter and trapper (1881–1882), and sketched western activities and scenery in his spare time. After a visit back in St. Louis for a month in 1882, he returned to the Great Northwest as a horse wrangler and cow puncher for several Montana cattlemen (1882–1893), but he continued to sketch and paint as much as he could....

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Smith, Francis Hopkinson (23 October 1838–07 April 1915), mechanical engineer, writer, and artist, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Francis Smith, a musician, mathematician, and philosopher, and Susan Teakle. Smith was reared in the genteel society of old Baltimore, where he studied for entrance to Princeton University. Smith’s family suffered economic ruin, however, and he never attended college. Before the Civil War he held jobs in a hardware store and an ironworks. Around 1858 he moved to New York City, where, after some training with a partner named James Symington, he set up an engineering firm. Over the years he increasingly complemented this enterprise with his work in the fine arts and as a speaker. He was usually thought of, and perhaps thought of himself, as a southern gentleman. In 1866 Smith married Josephine Van Deventer of Astoria, New York. They had two children....

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Strother, David Hunter (26 September 1816–08 March 1888), artist and writer, known as “Porte Crayon,” was born in Martinsburg, Virginia (now W.Va.), the son of John Strother, an assistant clerk of Berkeley County court, and Elizabeth Pendleton Hunter. His mother was related to distinguished Virginia families whose members included several writers. He early showed artistic talents and in 1829 studied briefly with the drawing master Pietro Ancora at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He briefly attended Jefferson College in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, for a year or so. In October 1835 he and a friend made an adventurous 500-mile hike up the Valley of Virginia to the Natural Bridge, tales of which he recounted eighteen years later....

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Williams, William ( June 1727–27 April 1791), novelist and painter, was baptized on 14 June 1727 in Bristol, England, the son of William Williams, probably a mariner, and Elizabeth (Belshire?). As a boy Williams attended the Bristol Grammar School, but his preferred classroom seems to have been a local artist’s studio, where he began to develop his interest in painting as a profession. Williams’s parents had more practical plans for their son, however, and when Williams was perhaps sixteen or seventeen years old, he was bound as an apprentice to a captain in the Virginia trade. This arrangement proved to be short lived. Dissatisfied with his appointed career, Williams abandoned his position at the earliest convenience and fled to the West Indies. Many years later the renowned artist ...