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Andrews, Eliza Frances (10 August 1840–21 January 1931), author and educator, was born at Haywood Plantation near Washington, Georgia, the daughter of Garnett Andrews, a judge and planter, and Annulet Ball. After attending the Ladies’ Seminary in Washington, Georgia, Andrews, often known as “Fanny,” was, in 1857, one of the first students to receive an A.B. degree at LaGrange Female College in LaGrange, Georgia....

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Anzaldua, Gloria E. (26 September 1942–15 May 2004), author, cultural theorist, and feminist philosopher, was born in the south Texas town of Raymondville, the oldest of four children of Urbano and Amalia (García) Anzaldúa, sixth-generation Mexican-American rancher-farmers. Gloria was diagnosed in infancy with a rare hormonal disorder that triggered premature puberty, including monthly menses from the age of six. This hormonal condition marked Gloria as physiologically different from her peers, fostering in her a lifelong empathy for other outsiders, which motivated her social justice work and her desire to use the written word to create new forms of inclusionary communities....

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Bissell, Emily Perkins (31 May 1861–08 March 1948), volunteer social worker and author, was born in Wilmington, Delaware, the daughter of Champion Aristarcus Bissell, a lawyer and banker, and Josephine Wales. Her forebears settled in Connecticut where her father, a Yale graduate, was reared. Her maternal grandfather, John Wales, served as a U.S. senator from Delaware from 1849 to 1851. Bissell was educated in Wilmington and at Miss Charlier’s School in New York City....

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Dorothy McLeod MacInerney

Blake, Mary Elizabeth (01 September 1840–26 February 1907), author, was born Mary Elizabeth McGrath in Dungarven, Ireland, the daughter of Patrick McGrath, an artisan in marble, and Mary Murphy. Mary’s family immigrated to Quincy, Massachusetts, when she was ten. Her father’s trade prospered, enabling him to provide his children with good educations. Mary attended Quincy High School from 1855 to 1859, Emerson’s Private School in Boston from 1859 to 1861, and the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Manhattanville from 1861 to 1863. Her major interests in school were music and modern languages. Upon graduating, Mary began teaching and writing poems, which were published in local newspapers. In 1865 she married John G. Blake, a prominent Boston physician; they had eleven children....

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Bonner, Marita Odette (16 June 1898–06 December 1971), educator and author, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Joseph Bonner, a machinist and laborer, and Mary A. Nowell. Educated in the Brookline, Massachusetts, public schools, she applied to Radcliffe College at the urging of her high school faculty adviser and was one of the few African-American students accepted for admission. She majored in English and comparative literature and founded the Radcliffe chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, a black sorority. A gifted pianist and student of musical composition, she won the Radcliffe song competition in 1918 and 1922. Bonner also studied German, a language in which she became fluent. During her last year in college she taught English at a Cambridge high school. After graduating with a B.A. in 1922, she taught at the Bluefield Colored Institute in Bluefield, Virginia, until 1924 and at Armstrong High School in Washington, D.C., from 1924 to 1930, when she married William Almy Occomy, a Brown graduate. The couple moved to Chicago, where they raised three children....

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Bonner, Sherwood (26 February 1849–22 July 1883), author, was born Katherine Sherwood Bonner in Holly Springs, Mississippi, the daughter of Charles Bonner, a physician, and Mary Wilson, daughter of a southern plantation owner. Although the Bonners were among the most wealthy and aristocratic families of Holly Springs, and although many of her contemporaries went to colleges and universities throughout the South, practically all of Bonner’s formal instruction was received in local schools. She did attend the Holly Springs Female Institute for two years, but the Civil War and her early marriage at age twenty-one put an end to her formal education....

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Chandler, Elizabeth Margaret (24 December 1807–02 November 1834), poet and essayist, was born in Centre, Delaware, near Wilmington, the daughter of Thomas Chandler, a physician and farmer, and Margaret Evans. Her father was a man of means; he descended from Quaker settlers on the Delaware River. Her mother died while Chandler was a baby....

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Dodge, Mary Abigail (31 March 1833–17 August 1896), author and journalist, best known as an under the pseudonym Gail Hamilton, was born in Hamilton, Massachusetts, the daughter of James Brown Dodge, a farmer, and Hannah Stanwood. Abby Dodge, as she preferred friends to call her, entered the Congregational church in her early years and enjoyed a country childhood marred only by an accident that permanently injured one eye. As a daughter of a family belonging to the landed gentry, Dodge received one of the best educations possible for a girl of her day. She benefited from her mother’s having been a schoolteacher before her marriage, and she attended the village school. At twelve she went to Cambridge for one year to attend a boarding school. The following year she moved to the Ipswich Female Seminary and graduated in 1850....

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Gerould, Katharine Fullerton (06 February 1879–27 July 1944), educator and author, was born in Brockton, Massachusetts. Orphaned in infancy, she was adopted by her uncle, Reverend Bradford Morton Fullerton, and his wife, Julia M. Bell Fullerton. She began her education at Miss Folsom’s School and received her B.A. (1900) and M.A. (1901) from Radcliffe College. She held a faculty position in English at Bryn Mawr until 1910....

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Grimké, Charlotte Forten (17 August 1837–23 July 1914), educator, diarist, and essayist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Mary Virginia Wood and Robert Bridges Forten, who were free blacks. Her father, a mathematician, orator, and reformer, was the son of wealthy sailmaker ...

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Hall, Sarah Ewing (30 October 1761–08 April 1830), essayist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of the Reverend John Ewing, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, and Hannah Sergeant. She was educated at home by her father and by the instructive conversation of his learned guests. In 1782 she married John Hall and for the next eight years lived in relative seclusion on his Maryland farm. The couple returned to Philadelphia in 1790 when John Hall became secretary of the Pennsylvania land office. By the time of his death in 1826 they had ten children, two of whom died in infancy....

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Jordan, June Millicent (09 July 1936–14 June 2002), poet, essayist, professor, and activist, was born in New York City to Granville Ivanhoe Jordan and Mildred Fisher Jordan. Her Jamaican parents migrated to the United States during the interwar years, first settling in Harlem, where Jordan was born, and later moving to the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. In the crucible of their immigrant striving—a rigorous itinerary of museums, planetariums, and symphonies; a precocious curriculum of ...

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Kenyon, Jane (23 May 1947–22 April 1995), poet and essayist, was born on the outskirts of Ann Arbor, Michigan, to Reuel Kenyon, a jazz pianist who had played with dance bands in Europe for ten years, and Pauline (Polly) Kenyon, a nightclub singer. When Reuel and Polly Kenyon’s first child, a son also named Reuel, was born, they settled down in a two-story house outside of Ann Arbor; he gave piano lessons and she gave sewing lessons from the home. Two upright pianos stood in the living room, books lay everywhere, and a well-used RCA Victor record player dominated one wall. There can be little doubt that growing up in a busy, artistically minded, musical household infused the rich lyric nature of Jane Kenyon’s mature poetry. Kenyon herself often spoke of her singular effort to create lyric poems, identifying them as “intense, musical cries of the spirit.” ( ...

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Laidlaw, Harriet Burton (16 Dec. 1873–25 Jan. 1949), suffragist, essayist, and social reformer, was born Harriet Davenport Wright Burton in Albany, New York, the oldest of three children and only daughter of George Davidson Burton, a bank teller, and Alice Davenport Wright. After her father’s death in ...

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Lazarus, Emma (22 July 1849–19 November 1887), poet and essayist, was born in New York City, the daughter of Moses Lazarus, a well-to-do sugar merchant, and Esther Nathan. The family identified itself as Jewish but was not religiously observant, and Lazarus’s early years did not suggest the direction she would later take. “I was brought up exclusively under American institutions, amid liberal influences, in a society where all differences of race and faith were fused in a refined cosmopolitanism,” she recalled. Privately tutored, she studied the curriculum for properly educated, young, upper-class ladies....

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Le Guin, Ursula K. (21 Oct. 1929–22 Jan. 2018), science fiction and fantasy novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet, was born Ursula Kroeber in Berkeley, California, the first child and only daughter of Alfred Louis Kroeber and Theodora Covel Kracaw Brown Kroeber, both of whom trained as anthropologists. Alfred Kroeber held a doctorate in cultural anthropology and studied under ...

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Lindbergh, Anne Morrow (22 June 1906–07 February 2001), author and aviator, was born Anne Spencer Morrow in Englewood, New Jersey, the second of the four children of Dwight W. Morrow, an investment banker, senator, and diplomat, and Elizabeth Reeve Cutter, a civic leader and advocate for women's education. Dwight Morrow's work took him to many European capitals, and his children often traveled with him. Anne's formal education was at Miss Chapin's School in Manhattan and Smith College, where she received awards for her poetry and essays. Intelligent and extremely observant, Anne was also shy, emotional, and self-critical. She began keeping a diary in her early teens and later characterized herself as someone for whom “an experience was not finished until it was written or shared in conversation” (...

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Lorde, Audre (18 February 1934–17 November 1992), poet, essayist, and feminist, was born Audrey Geraldine Lorde in New York City, the daughter of Frederic Byron Lorde, a laborer, and Linda Gertrude Belmar Lorde, both West Indian immigrants from Grenada. As a child, when someone asked about her thoughts, she replied by quoting poetry, and at the age of twelve she wrote poems. Lorde attended Hunter High School, where she met other girls who wrote poetry. She edited the school's literary magazine, but when an English teacher rejected a love poem Lorde had written about a boy, she sent it to ...

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Anne Martin. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-112008).

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Martin, Anne Henrietta (30 September 1875–15 April 1951), suffragist and feminist essayist, was born in Empire City, Nevada, the daughter of William O’Hara Martin, a state senator, merchant, and Reno bank president, and Louise Stadtmuller. She attended Bishop Whitaker’s School for Girls in Reno, then the University of Nevada (1892–1894), where she received a B.A. in history. After a second B.A. in 1896 and an M.A. in history in 1897, both from Stanford University, she founded the history department at the University of Nevada and headed it until 1899. From 1899 to 1901 she continued her studies at Chase School of Art, Columbia University, and the Universities of Leipzig and London; she then lectured in art history at Nevada until 1903....