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Auslander, Joseph (11 October 1897–22 June 1965), poet, editor, and translator, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Louis Auslander and Martha Asyueck. He attended Columbia University from 1914 to 1915, then transferred to Harvard, receiving his B.A. in 1917. In 1919 he became an instructor in English at Harvard. He pursued graduate studies there until 1924, with the interruption of one year (1921–1922) at the Sorbonne in Paris, where he went on a Parker Traveling Fellowship. His poetry began to appear in national magazines in 1919, and his first volume, ...

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Blackburn, Paul (24 November 1926–13 September 1971), poet and translator, was born in Saint Albans, Vermont, the son of William Blackburn and Frances Frost, a poet and novelist. Blackburn’s parents separated in 1930. His father left for California; his mother pursued a literary career, eventually settling in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Blackburn was left in the care of his strict maternal grandparents. His grandmother required little pretext for whipping him regularly, and his grandfather, who worked for the railroad, was away from home for long stretches at a time. In late poems such as “My Sainted,” he reveals his bitterness about his early childhood....

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Booth, Mary Louise (19 April 1831–05 March 1889), magazine editor and translator, was born in Millville (later Yaphank), Long Island, New York, the oldest child of William Chatfield Booth, a schoolteacher, and Nancy Monsell. Booth attended local schools at Yaphank and at Williamsburgh, which became part of Brooklyn, where the family moved in 1844 when her father became principal of a public school. Mainly, however, she was self-taught, reading the entire Bible at age five and Racine in the original French at seven. Although her father thought teaching the only suitable career for a woman, and she taught in his school briefly (about 1845–1846), she aspired to a literary career....

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Ciardi, John (24 June 1916–30 March 1986), poet-translator, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Carminantonio Ciardi, an insurance premium collector, and Concetta Di Benedictis. Ciardi was delivered by a midwife at his parents’ home in Boston’s Little Italy. Three years later his father died in an automobile accident, and his mother moved her family seven miles away to Medford, where the poet grew up across the street from the Mystic River. After high school, he went to Bates College in Maine for a year and a half before transferring to Tufts College in Medford for financial reasons. He majored in English and learned poetry from John Holmes, himself an accomplished poet-teacher, who became a surrogate father for Ciardi. He graduated with honors in 1938 and went to the University of Michigan to study poetry with Roy Cowden. There he won the Avery Hopwood Poetry Award in 1939, the same year he received an M.A. in English....

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Dabney, Richard (1787– November 1825), poet, critic, and translator, was born in Louisa County, Virginia, the son of Samuel Dabney, a planter of modest means, and Jane Meriwether, aunt of the explorer Meriwether Lewis. Richard did not attend college, but at sixteen he took eagerly to languages at a Latin and Greek school and before he was twenty was invited to become an assistant Latin and Greek teacher at a Richmond academy. It is not known where Dabney learned Italian and French. His precocious assimilation of literature in four languages is remarkable in light of his scant formal education....

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Deutsch, Babette (22 September 1895–13 November 1982), writer, editor, and translator, was born in New York City, the daughter of Michael Deutsch and Melanie Fisher. She grew up in New York, was a student at the Ethical Culture school, and attended Barnard College, graduating in 1917. She worked briefly for ...

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Ferguson, Elizabeth Graeme (03 February 1737–23 February 1801), writer and translator, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Thomas Graeme, a prominent physician, and Ann Diggs, stepdaughter of Sir William Keith, the first provincial governor of Pennsylvania. In the environment of her father’s large estate, “Graeme Park,” Elizabeth developed into a well-read and cultivated young woman. According to one memoir, her literary activity began “to divert her mind” from a broken engagement to ...

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Fitts, Dudley (28 April 1903–10 July 1968), translator and poet, was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, the son of Dudley Thomas Fitts, a bookkeeper, and Edith Kimball Eaton. He attended Harvard University, where he edited the Harvard Advocate; he graduated in 1925. His first serious poems appeared in 1930 in ...

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Gode-von Aesch, Alexander (30 October 1906–10 August 1970), linguist, translator, and publisher, was born Alexander Gottfried Friedrich Gode-von Aesch in Bremen, Germany, the son of Heinrich Gode, a businessman, and Anna von Aesch. With a German father and a Swiss mother, Alexander Gode, as he was most often known, was multilingual from childhood and studied language at the Universities of Vienna and Paris. He immigrated to the United States in 1927 to pursue his education further and became a citizen in 1939. He obtained a master of arts degree in languages at Columbia University in New York City in 1929 and a doctorate of philosophy in Germanic studies there ten years later. He married Johanna Roeser in 1930; the couple had two children. After his wife's death in 1963 he married Janet Alison Livermore, with whom he also had two children....

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Hearn, Lafcadio (27 June 1850–26 September 1904), journalist and author, was born on the Greek island of Leucadia (also known as Santa Maura), the son of Charles Bush Hearn, an Irish surgeon in the British army, and Rosa Antonia Cassimati. He moved to Dublin with his mother in July 1852 to join his father’s relatives. His mother returned to Greece two years later, leaving her son in the custody of Sarah Brenane, a great-aunt. A convert to Catholicism, she enrolled her charge in the Institution Ecclésiastique, a church school near Rouen, France, in 1862, and in St. Cuthbert’s College, a Catholic boys’ school near Durham, England, in 1863. There young Hearn suffered a disfiguring injury when a knotted rope struck him in the face and destroyed the vision in his left eye. He was withdrawn from school in October 1867 when his great-aunt could no longer pay his fees, and after boarding in London for a few lonely months he was given passage money to America....

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Joseph Heco. As pictured in Hutching's California Magazine, c. 1856–1860. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-93843).

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Heco, Joseph (1837–1897), government interpreter, merchant, and publisher, was born Hamada Hikozō in the village of Komiya, near Kobe, Japan, on the eastern shore of the Inland Sea, the second son of a well-to-do farmer. After his father’s death his mother remarried, to a sea captain who adopted him. While on what should have been a brief internal voyage in late 1850, his ship was blown into the Pacific. He and sixteen other persons, after drifting for fifty-two days, were picked up by a U.S. ship that landed at San Francisco in February 1851. The American authorities, planning for Commodore ...

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Humphries, Rolfe (20 November 1894–22 April 1969), poet and translator, was born George Rolfe Humphries in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Henry Humphries, a professional baseball player turned high school principal, and Florence Yost, an English teacher. Humphries was educated at home and in the public schools of Towanda, Pennsylvania. By the time he entered Amherst College in 1911, he knew Latin, Greek, German, and French and had read widely in English literature. He graduated a year early from Amherst, in 1914 (retaining his class of 1915 identity) and took a position teaching Latin and coaching football and baseball at the Potter School in San Francisco. Soon he purchased land on Lake Tahoe and opened a summer camp, which he ran until the depression. Humphries was drafted into the army in September 1917 but did not see service overseas. Discharged with the rank of first lieutenant in December 1918, he returned to the Potter School, joined a poetry workshop taught by ...

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Jolas, Maria ( January 1893–04 March 1987), cofounder of the Paris literary review transition, founder of the Ecole Bilingue in Neuilly, and translator and editor, cofounder of the Paris literary review transition, founder of the Ecole Bilingue in Neuilly, and translator and editor, was born Maria McDonald in Louisville, Kentucky, the daughter of Elizabeth (maiden name unknown) and Donald McDonald. The McDonalds, a wealthy family originally from Virginia, educated their daughter in New York boarding schools but derided her scholarship to the University of Chicago, which she turned down. She was, however, permitted to study voice in Berlin (1913–1914)....

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Latimer, Elizabeth Wormeley (26 July 1822–04 January 1904), novelist, translator, and historian, was born Mary Elizabeth Wormeley in London, England, the daughter of Rear Admiral Ralph Randolph Wormeley of the English Royal Navy and Caroline Preble of Boston, Massachusetts. Her father was born in Virginia, but as a boy he was taken to England, where he received his education and enlisted in the navy. Elizabeth spent her childhood in England, Boston, Virginia, and France. She was educated mostly by tutors, although she spent a brief time at a boarding school. When she was fourteen, the family moved to London, where she attended the funeral of King William IV and the coronation of Queen Victoria. In Paris she became acquainted with William Makepeace Thackeray and his mother, Mrs. Carmichael Smythe. She witnessed the second funeral of Napoleon and made her debut at the balls of Louis Philippe. In 1842 she traveled to America to visit at the home of friends. Here she met the historian ...

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Lattimore, Richmond Alexander (06 May 1906–26 February 1984), classicist, translator, and poet, was born in Paotingfu, China, the son of David Lattimore and Margaret Barnes, teachers. In 1920 Lattimore came to the United States with his parents from China, where his parents had gone to teach. After attending high school, he received his A.B. from Dartmouth College in 1926 and his M.A. from the University of Illinois in 1927, becoming an assistant professor at Wabash College. He won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford in 1929, where he earned a First in Greats in 1932, then returned to Illinois and received his Ph.D. in 1935. In 1934 he was made a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, where he met Alice Bockstahler, whom he married the following year. They had two children. Lattimore became an assistant professor at Bryn Mawr College where he remained until his retirement, except for military service in World War II (1943–1946) and various visiting fellowships and professorships. He was a Fulbright scholar in Greece in 1951–1952, an award that was won despite the fact that at this time his older brother, ...

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Lewisohn, Ludwig (30 May 1883–31 December 1955), writer and translator, was born to acculturated Jewish parents, Minna Eloesser and Jacques Lewisohn, in Berlin. His father, a ne’er-do-well businessman, settled the family in a South Carolina village, where Minna Lewisohn had relatives, in 1890. But Lewisohn spent most of his childhood in Charleston where, he recalled, he strove to “forget his Jewish and his German past” and be accepted as “an American, a Southerner, and a Christian.” Graduating in 1901 from the College of Charleston with both a B.A. and an M.A., he began graduate studies in English literature at Columbia University in New York City, where in 1903 he earned another M.A. In New York he began to affirm his German and, ultimately, his Jewish origins. He was plagued by the anti-Semitism and xenophobia of American university life at that time, but as instructor of German at the University of Wisconsin (1910–1911) and subsequently as professor of German language and literature at Ohio State University (1911–1919) he established his credentials as a prime interpreter of modern European, especially German, literature....

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Marianne Moore Photograph by George Platt Lynes, 1935. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-101955).

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Elaine Oswald and Robert L. Gale

Moore, Marianne (15 November 1887–05 February 1972), poet, critic, and translator, was born Marianne Craig Moore in Kirkland, Missouri, the daughter of John Milton Moore, a construction engineer and inventor, and Mary Warner. Moore had an older brother, John Warner Moore. She never met her father; before her birth his invention of a smokeless furnace failed, and he had a nervous and mental breakdown and was hospitalized in Massachusetts. Moore’s mother became a housekeeper for John Riddle Warner, her father, an affectionate, well-read Presbyterian pastor in Kirkwood, until his death in 1894. Moore’s mother, always overly protective, moved with her children briefly to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and then to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where Moore attended the Metzger Institute (now part of Dickinson College) through high school. In 1905 she entered Bryn Mawr College, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania; published nine poems, including “A Jelly-Fish,” in its literary magazines ...

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Parsons, Thomas William (18 August 1819–03 September 1892), poet and translator of Dante, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Thomas William Parsons, a physician and dentist, and Aseneth Read. The elder Parsons had earned his M.D. at Harvard, and the family thrived in upper-class Boston society. Young Parsons attended the Boston Public Latin School for six years but received no diploma there. He made his first trip abroad to Europe in 1836, where in Italy he began his lifelong obsession with the poetry of Dante. Friends claim that Parsons began to memorize the entire ...