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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....

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Elisabeth Sherwin

Adams, Alice (14 August 1926–27 May 1999), writer, was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, the daughter of Nicholson Barney Adams, a professor of Spanish at the University of North Carolina, and Agatha Erskine Boyd Adams. An only child, Adams grew up in a Chapel Hill, North Carolina, farmhouse. As Adams recalled in a July 1996 talk at the University of California, Davis (UCD), “I was one of those really horrible children who wrote poetry. I came from an extremely literary little town, Chapel Hill, so writing was considered a marvelous thing to do. For me to become a writer was not the least rebellious, it was conformity.” She described her family as “three difficult, isolated people” and her mother as a depressed person and failed writer. “My mother read all the time so I thought: ‘If I'm a maybe she'll like me’” (quoted in ...

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Adams, Andy (03 May 1859–26 September 1935), writer of novels and stories about the cattle country, was born in Thornecreek Township, Indiana, the son of Andrew Adams, a farmer, and Elizabeth Elliott. His father came from Ireland and his mother’s parents from Scotland. Andy called his parents’ place a “stock farm,” by which he meant that cattle as well as crops were raised there. Young Andy developed a special feeling for cattle, and this feeling was reinforced by his reading of the Bible with its many references to pastoral life. In his maturity Adams often said that cattle possessed “primal values”: humans depended on them and felt affection for their companions “through the ages.”...

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Adams, Charles Follen (21 April 1842–08 March 1918), dialect poet, was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, the son of Ira Adams, the warden of Boston Common, and Mary Elizabeth Senter. Adams was of New England stock, a descendant of the revolutionary patriot Samuel Adams...

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Adams, Cyrus Cornelius (07 January 1849–04 May 1928), geographer and editor, was born in Naperville, Illinois, the son of Cyrus Adams and Cornelia Stevens, farmers. He was raised by his aunt and uncle in Bloomington, Minnesota, and attended the nascent University of Minnesota for a year, continuing at the first University of Chicago. He became a reporter for the Chicago ...

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Adams, Franklin P. (15 November 1881–23 March 1960), newspaper columnist, humorist, and radio personality, was born Franklin Pierce Adams in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Moses Adams, a dry-goods merchant, and Clara Schlossberg, both German-Jewish immigrants. During his childhood he was an avid reader of the classics, history, nineteenth-century fiction, and light verse. He studied mathematics and science at the Armour Scientific Academy in Chicago, graduating in 1899. He attended the University of Michigan for less than a year, during which he studied literature and after which he began to earn his own living....

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Harriet Chalmers Adams. Harriet Chalmers Adams. Harriet Chalmers Adams, 1908. Glass negative. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-DIG-npcc-19900).

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Adams, Harriet Chalmers (22 October 1875–17 July 1937), explorer, lecturer, and writer, was born Harriet Chalmers in Stockton, California. Her father, Alexander Chalmers, Canadian via Scotland, came to California in 1864 to try his luck mining; he later ran a dry goods store with his brother before becoming a mine superintendent and part-owner. Her mother, Frances Wilkins, had grown up in the Sierra Nevada foothills. From the age of eleven Harriet and her sister Anna had private tutors. Her mother encouraged Harriet’s love of reading, while travels with her father developed her interest in the natural world as well as the Native American and Spanish-speaking cultures in the region. At thirteen Harriet and her father spent more than six months meandering the length of the Sierras from Oregon to Mexico, cementing her lifelong love of adventure. As a young woman Harriet continued her indoor and outdoor studies and had an active social life. She was fluent in Spanish and spoke Portuguese, French, Italian, and German as well....

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Adams, Harriet Stratemeyer (11 December 1892–27 March 1982), author and partner in the Stratemeyer Syndicate, was born in Newark, New Jersey, the daughter of Edward Stratemeyer, an author and the founder of the Stratemeyer Literary Syndicate, and Magdalene Van Camp. Much of Adams’s life was influenced by her famous father. Circa 1905 he established the Stratemeyer Literary Syndicate, whereby he developed new juvenile series, hired writers to flesh out plot outlines he created, then successfully marketed the manuscripts to publishers. Exposure to her father’s career sparked an early interest in writing. Years later Adams recalled watching her father and one of his chief ghostwriters, ...

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Adams, Henry (16 February 1838–27 March 1918), historian, novelist, and critic, was born Henry Brooks Adams in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Charles Francis Adams, a diplomat, legislator, and writer, and Abigail Brooks. He enjoyed unparalleled advantages, chief among them his famous name and many family connections: he was the great-grandson of President ...

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Adams, John (26 March 1705–23 January 1740), poet and minister, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of John Adams, a shopkeeper, and Hannah Checkley. His family relocated in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, several years before the young Adams matriculated at Harvard College. Adams graduated from Harvard in 1721. His connection to ...