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Ardrey, Robert (16 October 1908–14 January 1980), anthropologist, playwright, and novelist, was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Robert Lesley Ardrey, an editor and publisher, and Marie Haswell. Ardrey earned a Ph.D. in the natural and social sciences from the University of Chicago in 1930. After taking a writing course taught by ...

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Burk, John Daly (1776?–?11 Apr. 1808), editor, historian, and dramatist, was born in Ireland, arriving in America at the age of twenty. His parents’ names are unknown. He was a student at Trinity College in Dublin, but he was dismissed for “deism and republicanism” and eventually forced to leave Ireland, presumably because of political difficulties. Legend has it that a woman named Miss Daly gave him her female attire to help him escape from the British, hence the use of Daly in his name....

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Gordin, Jacob (01 May 1853–11 June 1909), playwright and teacher, was born in Mirgorod, Ukraine, the son of Yekhiel Mikhel Ha-Levi Gordin, a prosperous merchant, and Ida (maiden name unknown). Gordin received both a secular education and a grounding in traditional Jewish studies. Most of his early jobs were as a Russian-language journalist, at which he made a name for himself for his vignettes of Jewish life. He may also have worked in the Russian theater. He married Anna Itskowitz in 1872; they had eleven children....

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Leonard, William Ellery (25 January 1876–02 May 1944), philologist, poet, and dramatist, was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, the son of the Reverend William James Leonard and Martha Whitcomb. Named after the famous Unitarian minister William Ellery Channing (1780–1842), he dropped Channing by the time he reached college. Reverend Leonard, himself a native of Plainfield, had been a Baptist minister in Chicago but suddenly resigned his pastorate when he could no longer accept the religious beliefs of his congregation. At the time of Ellery’s birth he was editor of the ...

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Moody, William Vaughn (08 July 1869–17 October 1910), poet, playwright, and educator, was born in Spencer, Indiana, the son of Francis Burdette Moody and Henriette Emily Stoy. Prior to Will’s birth, Burdette Moody was captain and part-owner of two Mississippi riverboats, one of which was confiscated by the Confederacy at the outbreak of the Civil War. Never recovering from this financial setback, “Captain Moody” dutifully abandoned the freedom and adventure of the river to work the rest of his life as a secretary in the Stoy family’s ironworks at New Albany, Indiana, where Will spent his childhood. Henriette, an accomplished artist but an invalid for much of her life, nourished Will’s interest in the arts and encouraged his devotion to Methodism. From this environment, Will developed a respect for the Protestant ethic, which later warred with his humanistic values and devotion to freedom....

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Channing Pollock Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1934. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LOT 12735, no. 932 P&P).

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Pollock, Channing (04 March 1880–17 August 1946), playwright, journalist, and lecturer, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Alexander Lyon Pollock, an employee of the U.S. Weather Bureau, and Verona Larkin. Pollock’s early schooling took place in Omaha and Salt Lake City, where his father worked as a newspaper editor and publisher. He also went to the Untergymnasium in Prague, while visiting his father’s relatives, the elder Pollock having emigrated in the 1870s from Austria. He had tutors in San Salvador, where his father served as U.S. consul, dying of yellow fever. Enrolled in Bethel Military Academy, Warrenton, Virginia, he grew impatient to work as a writer. Already at school at eight, he had written and acted in ...