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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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Arna Bontemps Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1939. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-100856).

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Bontemps, Arna Wendell (13 October 1902–04 June 1973), writer, was born in Alexandria, Louisiana, the son of Paul Bismark Bontemps, a bricklayer, and Maria Carolina Pembroke, a schoolteacher. He was reared in Los Angeles, where his family moved when he was three. He graduated from Pacific Union College in Angwin, California, in 1923....

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Calkins, Clinch (15 July 1895–26 December 1968), poet, polemicist, and novelist, was born Marion Clinch Calkins in Evansville, Wisconsin, the daughter of Judson Wells Calkins, a politically liberal owner of a general store, and Julia Clinch, a lover of music and literature. Calkins graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1918, packed artillery shells in a Milwaukee plant, and then returned to Madison to teach in the university’s English and art history departments and to do social work. She submitted a poem, “I Was a Maiden,” to an annual competition in the ...

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Calvert, George Henry (02 June 1803–24 May 1889), author, was born on his family’s estate near Bladensburg, Maryland, the son of George Calvert, a planter and politician, and Rosalie Eugenia Stier. As a child, Calvert was raised to be mindful of his aristocratic heritage—his paternal great-grandfather was the fifth Lord Baltimore, the founder of Maryland, and on his maternal side he was a descendant of Peter Paul Rubens—and his childhood years were spent in a style befitting a young man of wealth and gentility. In 1819 Calvert entered Harvard College, where he remained until 1823, at which time he was dismissed along with thirty other students for participating in the “Great Rebellion,” a protest aimed at limiting the restrictions over student activities, but which ultimately led to the students protesting the quality of the education that they were receiving at Harvard. After leaving Harvard, Calvert journeyed to Europe and stayed with an uncle in Antwerp before spending fifteen months studying history and philosophy at the University of Göttingen. Concurrent and subsequent to his time at Göttingen, Calvert traveled to Weimar, where he met Goethe, and he then visited Edinburgh, Paris, and Antwerp again before returning to America in 1827. Calvert settled in Baltimore, where he served as editor of the ...

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Frank, Waldo David (25 August 1889–09 January 1967), author and cultural critic, was born in Long Branch, New Jersey, the son of Julius J. Frank, a successful Wall Street attorney, and Helene Rosenberg. Growing up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Frank took an early interest in writing, finishing his first novel at age sixteen. After spending a year at a private prep school in Lausanne, Switzerland, Frank entered Yale University in 1907. While at Yale, he served as drama critic for the New Haven ...

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Paul, Elliot (13 February 1891–07 April 1958), writer, was born Elliot Harold Paul in Malden, Massachusetts, the son of Howard Henry Paul, a varnish manufacturer, and Lucy Greenleaf Doucette. Howard Paul died in a mental institution shortly before Elliot’s fourth birthday. Consequently, older siblings and other relatives helped support the family. Paul showed early talent as a musician, but after graduating from high school in 1907, he joined his older brother in Montana and worked as a civil engineer for the U.S. Reclamation Service. He then returned east and spent the academic year 1908–1909 at the University of Maine, studying engineering. In 1909 Paul moved to Louisville, Kentucky, and worked for a year as a city engineer....