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Aarons, Edward Sidney (1916–16 June 1975), mystery writer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Aarons (also known by the pen names Paul Ayres and Edward Ronns) worked variously as a newspaper reporter, millhand, salesman, and fisherman to support himself while attending Columbia University. In 1933 he won a collegiate short story contest. In 1936, with the publication of his first mystery novel, he decided to make writing his career....

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Abbey, Edward (29 January 1927–14 March 1989), essayist, novelist, and radical ecologist, was born in Home, Pennsylvania, the son of Paul Revere Abbey, a farmer, and Mildred Postlewaite, a public schoolteacher. He was raised, with four siblings, on a hardscrabble farm. A turning point in late adolescence came out of some months of hitchhiking around the western United States, with which he ever after fervently identified himself....

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Abbey, Henry (11 July 1842–07 June 1911), poet, was born in Rondout (now a part of Kingston), New York, the son of Stephen Abbey, a merchant of farm products, and Caroline Vail. His family was moderately successful and able to support his attendance at Kingston Academy, the Delaware Literary Institute in Delhi, New York, and the Hudson River Institute across the river in Columbia County, but the uncertain grain and feed business was insufficient to enable him to attend college....

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Abbott, Joseph Carter (15 July 1825–08 October 1881), senator and journalist, was born in Concord, New Hampshire, the son of Aaron Carter Abbott, a farmer and laborer, and Nancy Badger. After graduating in 1846 from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, Abbott studied law. He began his practice in Concord in 1852, the year he became editor and proprietor of the ...

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Abbott, Lyman (18 December 1835–22 October 1922), Congregational clergyman and editor of the Outlook, Congregational clergyman and editor of the Outlook, was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, the son of Jacob Abbott, a pastor and author of the “Rollo” children’s books, and Harriet Vaughan. Raised in Farmington, Maine, Abbott graduated from New York University with an A.B. in 1853. He then joined his brothers’ law firm, passing the bar examination in 1856. The following year he married Abby Frances Hamlin, and they settled in Brooklyn, New York. There Abbott came under the influence of the nationally renowned preacher ...

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Abbott, Robert Sengstacke (28 November 1868–29 February 1940), newspaper publisher, was born Robert Abbott in Fort Frederica, St. Simons Island, off the coast of Savannah, Georgia, the son of Thomas Abbott and Flora Butler, former slaves who operated a grocery store on St. Thomas Island. Thomas Abbott died the year after Robert was born, and his mother moved to Savannah where she eventually was remarried in 1874 to John Herman Henry Sengstacke. Sengstacke was the son of a German father and a black mother and, although born in the United States, was reared in Germany. He returned to the United States in 1869 and pursued careers in education, the clergy, and journalism. In the latter role Sengstacke became editor of the ...

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Abell, Arunah Sheperdson (10 August 1806–19 April 1888), journalist and publisher, was born in East Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Caleb Abell, a quartermaster in the War of 1812, and Elona Sheperdson. Abell left school at age fourteen and worked for two years in a shop that dealt in West Indian goods. In 1822 he was apprenticed to the ...

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Abrams, Harry Nathan (23 February 1905–25 November 1979), publisher and art collector, was born in London, England, the son of Morris Abrams, a shoe store proprietor, and Amelia Rosenberg. In 1913 the family moved from London to New York City, where Abrams studied at the National Academy of Design and at the Art Students League....

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Abigail Adams. After a painting by Gilbert Stuart. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-10016 DLC).

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Adams, Abigail (11 November 1744–28 October 1818), first lady and woman of intellect, was born in Weymouth, Massachusetts, the daughter of William Smith, a Congregational minister, and Elizabeth Quincy. Abigail grew up in a prominent and wealthy family, descended from Puritan leaders and successful merchants. She had no formal schooling, both because of her recurrent illnesses and the limited options available to girls. Yet neither obstacle prevented her from achieving a remarkably broad and sophisticated education. She enjoyed the family’s well-stocked library, the stimulating company of educated relatives and parsonage visitors, and the attentive tutelage of her grandmother. Her studies ranged from Shakespeare to Locke, from Plato to French. She also began two lifelong habits: letter-writing to distant relatives and friends, and the practice of a deep Congregational faith....