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Beard, James Andrews (05 May 1903–23 January 1985), cookbook author and American food authority, was born in Portland, Oregon, the son of John Beard, an assistant appraiser of the Port of Portland, and Mary Elizabeth Jones, a hotel and boardinghouse owner. Beard’s formidable mother exercised a powerful influence on her only child. The enticing aromas and tastes of her kitchen dominated his memories of childhood. Recipes and food lore she taught him occupy more than half of his 1964 autobiography, ...

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Becker, Marion Rombauer (02 January 1903–28 December 1976), cookbook writer, arts administrator, and conservationist, was born Marion Julia Rombauer in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Edgar Roderick Rombauer, a lawyer, and Irma Louise von Starkloff, a cookbook writer. Her outlook and interests were strongly shaped by a freethinking, reform-minded family. She studied art history and French at Vassar College and spent her junior year at Washington University in St. Louis, receiving a B.A. from Vassar in 1925. Hoping to find a career in modern dance or art education, she began teaching in 1929 in the art department of John Burroughs School, an experimental school in Clayton, Missouri....

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Cannon, Poppy (2 Aug. 1905–1 April 1975), cookbook author, journalist, and advertising executive, was born Lillian Gruskin in Cape Town, South Africa, to Robert and Henrietta Gruskin, Jewish immigrants from Lithuania. (Henrietta’s maiden name is unknown.) The family moved to the United States in ...

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Chamberlain, Samuel V. (28 Oct. 1895–10 Jan. 1975), graphic artist, photographer, and gourmet food writer, was born Samuel Vance Chamberlain in Cresco, Iowa, the son of Dr. George Ellsworth Chamberlain, a surgeon, and Cora Lee Summers. In 1901 the family moved to Aberdeen, Washington, where Chamberlain undertook his early education. In ...

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Chen, Joyce (14 September 1917–23 August 1994), restaurateur, author, and chef, was born Liao Jia-ai in Beijing, China, the daughter of Liao Xin-shi, a railroad administrator and city executive; her mother’s family name was Wu. As a high-ranking Chinese official, Chen’s father was able to employ several servants, but both parents encouraged Chen to learn to do things for herself. She often recalled her mother warning, “You had better learn how to cook … so you don’t [ever] have to eat raw rice” ( ...

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Child, Julia (15 August 1912–13 August 2004), cookbook author and television chef, was born Julia Carolyn McWilliams in Pasadena, California, the eldest of three children of John McWilliams and Carolyn (Caro) Weston. Both of her parents came from wealth and could trace their lineage to the first Anglo settlers in North America. John McWilliams was a leading patron of Pasadena's civic institutions; Julia was raised among the city's social elite, and her family was a fixture at nearby exclusive beach resorts. Julia enjoyed an active, privileged childhood. She attended several local private schools, including the Polytechnic School and the Katharine Branson School, and then, following her mother's wishes, Smith College, from which she graduated in 1934. Social life was, by all accounts, far more interesting than schoolwork. She was, in her words, “really only a butterfly” whose delight in outdoor sports and school escapades was legendary. Her six-foot three-inch height was legendary too. It gave Julia physical and social presence, and her mother was concerned that Julia and her sister would never marry....

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Chu, Grace Zia (23 April 1899–15 April 1999), cooking authority and writer, was born Grace Anna Zia in Shanghai, China, one of nine children of Zia Hong-lai, a Christian religious educator and editor, and Zok-tsung Sze, who was active in the Chinese division of the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), a U.S.-based organization that promoted Christian fellowship among women throughout the world. Grace was educated at local institutions run by Protestant missionaries, including the McTyeire School for Girls in Shanghai, which awarded her a secondary school diploma in 1918. The family was orphaned at about this time, and Grace remained at home for a while to help care for her siblings. In 1920 she enrolled at Ginling College in Nanjing and studied there for a year. Through the American YWCA, and with the help of a grant from the McCormick family of Chicago, she received a scholarship to Wellesley College, an all-female institution near Boston, Massachusetts, which had previously welcomed other Chinese students....

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Claiborne, Craig (04 September 1920–22 January 2000), food journalist and restaurant critic, was born in Sunflower, Mississippi, the son of Lewis Edmond Claiborne, a cotton grower and local bank officer, and Mary Kathleen Craig Claiborne. His father lost his lands and fortune shortly after Craig's birth and never again held gainful employment. His mother moved the family to the larger town of Indianola and opened a boarding house. She became famous for her high-quality meals, prepared by black cooks using her recipes. Craig grew up savoring outstanding southern cooking. After graduating from Indianola High School, he attended Mississippi State College before moving to the University of Missouri, where he received a B.A. in journalism in 1942....

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Corson, Juliet (13 January 1841?–18 June 1897), founder of the New York Cooking School and pioneer in the scientific cookery movement, was born in Mount Pleasant, Massachusetts, the daughter of Peter Ross Corson, a prosperous produce merchant, and Mary Ann Henderson. (Although most obituaries and biographical sources give Corson’s birth date as 1842, the Vital Records of Roxbury, Massachusetts, give the date as 1841.) Corson’s family moved to New York City when she was six years old. In New York her uncle, Alfred Upham, helped to raise her and provided her with a classical education. She began to support herself in her late teens after her mother’s death....

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Farmer, Fannie Merritt (23 March 1857–15 January 1915), cooking school director and cookbook author, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of John Franklin Farmer, a printer, and Mary Watson Merritt. Her parents moved to Medford, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston, when she was a child. Her parents, stalwart Unitarians, believed strongly in education for their four daughters, and although they were none-too-well-off financially, Fannie looked forward to a college education. These plans were dashed while she was still at Medford High School, for she was stricken with an ailment—likely polio—that left her bedridden for many months, an invalid for some years, and partially paralyzed for the rest of her life....

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E. D. Lloyd-Kimbrel

Fisher, M. F. K. (03 July 1908–22 June 1992), writer, was born Mary Frances Kennedy in Albion, Michigan, the daughter of Rex Brenton Kennedy, a newspaper editor, and Edith Oliver Holbrook, a real estate broker. When Fisher was three years old, the family moved to the Quaker community of Whittier, California, where her father took over the editorship of the local newspaper. The Kennedys were Episcopal and somewhat “outside the faith” in their new home. Rex Kennedy continued as editor of the ...

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Gaige, Crosby (26 July 1882–08 March 1949), theatrical producer and writer, was born Roscoe Conkling Crosby Gaige in Nelson, New York, the son of George Edward Gaige, a postmaster, and Jane DeMaine. Gaige was descended from Enoch Crosby, a confidential emissary for General ...

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Gibbons, Euell Theophilus (08 September 1911–29 December 1975), author and naturalist, was born in Clarksville, Texas, the son of Ely Joseph Gibbons, a carpenter, blacksmith, grocer, and rancher, and Laura Augusta Bowers. Gibbons’s mother taught him much about identifying edible wild plants. In 1922 the Gibbons family moved to New Mexico, where extreme poverty forced the family to live on scavenged roots and small game. Leaving home at age fifteen, Gibbons worked as a farmhand and carpenter in Texas and New Mexico. From the Navajo Indians in northern New Mexico he further broadened his knowledge of wild foods....

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Hazan, Marcella (15 April 1924–29 September 2013), teacher of Italian cooking and cookbook author, was born Marcella Polini in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, in what was then the small fishing village of Cesenatico on the Adriatic coast. Her father, Giuseppe Polini, was a tailor. Her mother, Maria, whose maiden name was Riccardo, was a member of a family of expatriate Italians living in the Middle East....

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Herrick, Christine Terhune (13 June 1859–02 December 1944), cookbook author and household affairs writer, was born in Newark, New Jersey, the daughter of Edward Payson Terhune, a minister, and Mary Virginia Hawes, a writer. Christine was educated primarily at home by tutors. Her mother, a respected author whose pen name was ...

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Hines, Duncan (26 March 1880–15 March 1959), author, editor, and publisher of travel and restaurant guidebooks for motorists, was born in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the son of Edward L. Hines, a former Confederate army captain, schoolteacher, lawyer, and housebuilder, and Cornelia Duncan. Hines was raised by his grandmother after his mother died, and he attributed his appreciation of the art of dining to his grandmother’s southern cooking. Though he would achieve widespread name recognition as a restaurant critic, his career did not involve food until he reached his mid-fifties. In 1896 he enrolled in Bowling Green Business University but left after two years. For the next forty years he worked in a variety of jobs, mostly public relations; he designed, wrote, and produced corporate brochures, traveling widely from his home in Chicago to visit clients around the country. In 1905 he married Florence Chaffin; they had no children....

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Jaramillo, Cleofas Martínez (06 December 1878–30 November 1956), folklorist, writer, and businesswoman, was born in the northern New Mexican village of Arroyo Hondo, the daughter of Julian Antonio Martínez, a landholder who raised sheep and cattle, farmed, and engaged in the mercantile trade, and Marina Lucero de Martínez. Both parents were descended from Spanish pioneers who settled the territory for New Spain in the late sixteenth century. One of seven children, Jaramillo spent her early years amidst the pleasures and hard work of a prosperous, upper-class, large country household. At age nine she entered the Loretto Convent School in Taos, New Mexico, and later attended the Loretto Academy in Santa Fe. There she was courted by her cousin, Colonel Venceslao Jaramillo, whom she married in Taos in 1898. After a wedding trip to California, they settled in El Rito....

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Kander, Lizzie Black (28 May 1858–24 July 1940), settlement founder and cookbook author, was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the daughter of John Black, an owner of a dry goods store, and Mary Pereles, a native of Austria. Lizzie was raised within a Jewish Reform tradition of service to the poor. She graduated from Milwaukee High School in 1878 and married Simon Kander, a clothing salesman, on 17 May 1881. The couple had no children....

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Eliza Leslie. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103454).

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Leslie, Eliza (15 November 1787–01 January 1858), writer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Robert Leslie, a watchmaker, and Lydia Baker. Like many female children of her time, Leslie was privately tutored in French and music and attended school only for a few months, to learn needlework. From 1793 to 1799 the family lived in London, where her father exported watches and clocks to Philadelphia. Meanwhile, the American side of the business was sorely mismanaged, and after the death of her father in 1803, Eliza and her mother were forced to open their home to boarders. While her brother ...