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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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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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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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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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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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Root, Waverley (15 April 1903–31 October 1982), writer and journalist, was born Waverley Lewis Root in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Francis Solomon Root and Florence Mae Lewis. When Root was seven years old, his family moved to Fall River, Massachusetts, where he attended the public schools. In 1920 he enrolled in Tufts University, where he worked as a campus reporter for Boston newspapers and the Associated Press, wrote for the student paper, and began a major in English. Dissatisfied with the English department, Root changed his major to psychology and talked the college administration into allowing him to teach his own course in American literature. In 1923 he left Tufts without a degree and moved to New York City. For the next few years he wrote theater and music criticism and fiction for a number of publications and a few book reviews for the ...