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Auslander, Joseph (11 October 1897–22 June 1965), poet, editor, and translator, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Louis Auslander and Martha Asyueck. He attended Columbia University from 1914 to 1915, then transferred to Harvard, receiving his B.A. in 1917. In 1919 he became an instructor in English at Harvard. He pursued graduate studies there until 1924, with the interruption of one year (1921–1922) at the Sorbonne in Paris, where he went on a Parker Traveling Fellowship. His poetry began to appear in national magazines in 1919, and his first volume, ...

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Blackburn, Paul (24 November 1926–13 September 1971), poet and translator, was born in Saint Albans, Vermont, the son of William Blackburn and Frances Frost, a poet and novelist. Blackburn’s parents separated in 1930. His father left for California; his mother pursued a literary career, eventually settling in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Blackburn was left in the care of his strict maternal grandparents. His grandmother required little pretext for whipping him regularly, and his grandfather, who worked for the railroad, was away from home for long stretches at a time. In late poems such as “My Sainted,” he reveals his bitterness about his early childhood....

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Campanius, Johan (15 August 1601–17 September 1683), first European to translate a religious document into a Native-American language, thought to have been the was born in Stockholm, Sweden, the son of Reverend Jonas Peter Campanius, rector of St. Klara’s Church. (His mother’s name is unknown.) He was ordained in 1633 after graduating from the University of Uppsala. The name Holm was often added to his name to indicate that he was from Stockholm....

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Ciardi, John (24 June 1916–30 March 1986), poet-translator, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Carminantonio Ciardi, an insurance premium collector, and Concetta Di Benedictis. Ciardi was delivered by a midwife at his parents’ home in Boston’s Little Italy. Three years later his father died in an automobile accident, and his mother moved her family seven miles away to Medford, where the poet grew up across the street from the Mystic River. After high school, he went to Bates College in Maine for a year and a half before transferring to Tufts College in Medford for financial reasons. He majored in English and learned poetry from John Holmes, himself an accomplished poet-teacher, who became a surrogate father for Ciardi. He graduated with honors in 1938 and went to the University of Michigan to study poetry with Roy Cowden. There he won the Avery Hopwood Poetry Award in 1939, the same year he received an M.A. in English....

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Curtin, Jeremiah (06 September 1835–14 December 1906), and Alma Cardell Curtin (11 March 1847–14 April 1938), authors, ; Jeremiah was an author, translator, ethnographer, and linguist who gained fame late in life, and his wife Alma served as his uncredited collaborator for more than thirty years. After his death she wrote books under his name, including the ...

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Dabney, Richard (1787– November 1825), poet, critic, and translator, was born in Louisa County, Virginia, the son of Samuel Dabney, a planter of modest means, and Jane Meriwether, aunt of the explorer Meriwether Lewis. Richard did not attend college, but at sixteen he took eagerly to languages at a Latin and Greek school and before he was twenty was invited to become an assistant Latin and Greek teacher at a Richmond academy. It is not known where Dabney learned Italian and French. His precocious assimilation of literature in four languages is remarkable in light of his scant formal education....

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Du Ponceau, Pierre Étienne (03 June 1760–01 April 1844), scholar and lawyer, was born in St. Martin, Isle of Ré, France, the son of a French army officer. He was trained first for the military, which he had to abandon because of poor eyesight, and then for the Roman Catholic priesthood by Benedictine monks at St. Jean Angely and at the Episcopal College in Poitou. After 1775 Du Ponceau served as a secretary and assistant to minor government officials in Paris and to the philologist Count de Gebelin. He came to the United States in 1777 as secretary and nominal military aide to Prussian army officer Baron ...

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Dwight, Theodore (03 March 1796–16 October 1866), author, translator, and reformer, was born in Hartford, Connecticut, the son of Theodore Dwight, a lawyer, editor, and secretary to the Hartford Convention, and Abigail Alsop. His father was one of the Hartford Wits, a group of Connecticut poets who followed in the tradition of the Connecticut Wits, to which his uncle, Yale College president ...

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Fitts, Dudley (28 April 1903–10 July 1968), translator and poet, was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, the son of Dudley Thomas Fitts, a bookkeeper, and Edith Kimball Eaton. He attended Harvard University, where he edited the Harvard Advocate; he graduated in 1925. His first serious poems appeared in 1930 in ...

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Fleete, Henry (1602–1661), English colonial merchant and Indian interpreter, was born in County Kent, England, the son of William Fleete, a lawyer and country squire, and Deborah Scott. Residing in America after 1621, Fleete is best known for pioneering the Potomac River beaver trade between the late 1620s and early 1630s and for guiding Lord Baltimore’s colonists to their first Maryland settlement in March 1634....

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Gallaudet, Thomas (03 June 1822–27 August 1902), Episcopal minister to the deaf, was born in Hartford, Connecticut, the son of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, educator of the deaf, and Sophia Fowler. Thomas Hopkins had founded the Connecticut Asylum, a school for the deaf in Hartford in 1817, and Sophia was one of its first graduates. They had little money but their work was well known and brought them into contact with the highest echelons of society. Growing up in these surroundings, Thomas early became interested in education for the deaf and particularly in communication through sign language....

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Girty, Simon (1741–18 February 1818), British Loyalist and frontier warrior, was born near Harrisburg in colonial Pennsylvania, the son of farmers. One of at least four children born to Simon Girty and Mary Newton, young Simon was raised in modest circumstances. He received no formal education and remained illiterate. When only ten years of age, his father was killed by an Indian. Girty later maintained that his stepfather met a similar fate. In the course of the French and Indian War, Simon was captured by the Seneca and held captive for thirty-six months. During his captivity, Girty became familiar with the language of his captors....

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Gode-von Aesch, Alexander (30 October 1906–10 August 1970), linguist, translator, and publisher, was born Alexander Gottfried Friedrich Gode-von Aesch in Bremen, Germany, the son of Heinrich Gode, a businessman, and Anna von Aesch. With a German father and a Swiss mother, Alexander Gode, as he was most often known, was multilingual from childhood and studied language at the Universities of Vienna and Paris. He immigrated to the United States in 1927 to pursue his education further and became a citizen in 1939. He obtained a master of arts degree in languages at Columbia University in New York City in 1929 and a doctorate of philosophy in Germanic studies there ten years later. He married Johanna Roeser in 1930; the couple had two children. After his wife's death in 1963 he married Janet Alison Livermore, with whom he also had two children....

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Hart, James Morgan (02 November 1839–18 April 1916), educator, translator, and writer, was born in Princeton, New Jersey, the son of John Seely Hart and Amelia Caroline Morford. After spending his childhood in Pennsylvania, he attended the College of New Jersey (now Princeton), graduating with an A.B. in 1860 and an A.M. in 1863. He also studied abroad in Geneva, Göttingen, and Berlin; he received the degree of Juris Utriusque Doctor (doctor of civil and canon law) from the University of Göttingen in 1864. Hart practiced law in New York City for several years and became an assistant professor of modern languages at Cornell (1868–1872), where he taught southern European languages. He published a number of translations, the most important being his version of Franz Dingelstedt’s ...

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Hearn, Lafcadio (27 June 1850–26 September 1904), journalist and author, was born on the Greek island of Leucadia (also known as Santa Maura), the son of Charles Bush Hearn, an Irish surgeon in the British army, and Rosa Antonia Cassimati. He moved to Dublin with his mother in July 1852 to join his father’s relatives. His mother returned to Greece two years later, leaving her son in the custody of Sarah Brenane, a great-aunt. A convert to Catholicism, she enrolled her charge in the Institution Ecclésiastique, a church school near Rouen, France, in 1862, and in St. Cuthbert’s College, a Catholic boys’ school near Durham, England, in 1863. There young Hearn suffered a disfiguring injury when a knotted rope struck him in the face and destroyed the vision in his left eye. He was withdrawn from school in October 1867 when his great-aunt could no longer pay his fees, and after boarding in London for a few lonely months he was given passage money to America....

Image

Joseph Heco. As pictured in Hutching's California Magazine, c. 1856–1860. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-93843).

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Heco, Joseph (1837–1897), government interpreter, merchant, and publisher, was born Hamada Hikozō in the village of Komiya, near Kobe, Japan, on the eastern shore of the Inland Sea, the second son of a well-to-do farmer. After his father’s death his mother remarried, to a sea captain who adopted him. While on what should have been a brief internal voyage in late 1850, his ship was blown into the Pacific. He and sixteen other persons, after drifting for fifty-two days, were picked up by a U.S. ship that landed at San Francisco in February 1851. The American authorities, planning for Commodore ...

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Humphries, Rolfe (20 November 1894–22 April 1969), poet and translator, was born George Rolfe Humphries in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Henry Humphries, a professional baseball player turned high school principal, and Florence Yost, an English teacher. Humphries was educated at home and in the public schools of Towanda, Pennsylvania. By the time he entered Amherst College in 1911, he knew Latin, Greek, German, and French and had read widely in English literature. He graduated a year early from Amherst, in 1914 (retaining his class of 1915 identity) and took a position teaching Latin and coaching football and baseball at the Potter School in San Francisco. Soon he purchased land on Lake Tahoe and opened a summer camp, which he ran until the depression. Humphries was drafted into the army in September 1917 but did not see service overseas. Discharged with the rank of first lieutenant in December 1918, he returned to the Potter School, joined a poetry workshop taught by ...

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Lattimore, Richmond Alexander (06 May 1906–26 February 1984), classicist, translator, and poet, was born in Paotingfu, China, the son of David Lattimore and Margaret Barnes, teachers. In 1920 Lattimore came to the United States with his parents from China, where his parents had gone to teach. After attending high school, he received his A.B. from Dartmouth College in 1926 and his M.A. from the University of Illinois in 1927, becoming an assistant professor at Wabash College. He won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford in 1929, where he earned a First in Greats in 1932, then returned to Illinois and received his Ph.D. in 1935. In 1934 he was made a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, where he met Alice Bockstahler, whom he married the following year. They had two children. Lattimore became an assistant professor at Bryn Mawr College where he remained until his retirement, except for military service in World War II (1943–1946) and various visiting fellowships and professorships. He was a Fulbright scholar in Greece in 1951–1952, an award that was won despite the fact that at this time his older brother, ...

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Lewisohn, Ludwig (30 May 1883–31 December 1955), writer and translator, was born to acculturated Jewish parents, Minna Eloesser and Jacques Lewisohn, in Berlin. His father, a ne’er-do-well businessman, settled the family in a South Carolina village, where Minna Lewisohn had relatives, in 1890. But Lewisohn spent most of his childhood in Charleston where, he recalled, he strove to “forget his Jewish and his German past” and be accepted as “an American, a Southerner, and a Christian.” Graduating in 1901 from the College of Charleston with both a B.A. and an M.A., he began graduate studies in English literature at Columbia University in New York City, where in 1903 he earned another M.A. In New York he began to affirm his German and, ultimately, his Jewish origins. He was plagued by the anti-Semitism and xenophobia of American university life at that time, but as instructor of German at the University of Wisconsin (1910–1911) and subsequently as professor of German language and literature at Ohio State University (1911–1919) he established his credentials as a prime interpreter of modern European, especially German, literature....