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Bodenheim, Maxwell (26 May 1892–07 February 1954), poet, critic, and novelist, was born in Hermanville, Mississippi, the son of Solomon Bodenheimer and Caroline Herman. An emigrant from Alsace, Solomon Bodenheimer never found financial or professional security; his career included stints as a traveling whiskey salesman and unsuccessful forays into clothing stores and men’s haberdashery. The daughter of a distinguished and wealthy surgeon, Caroline Bodenheimer came from a milieu that was vastly different from that of her husband. Indeed, the town of Hermanville itself obtained its name from Caroline Bodenheimer’s uncle, M. B. Herman, who had founded the town and established a small mercantile empire there. Caroline’s tales of lost prosperity provided a bitter contrast to the impoverished world in which Maxwell Bodenheim was reared....

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Dalton Gross and MaryJean Gross

Ficke, Arthur Davison (10 November 1883–30 November 1945), lawyer and poet, was born in Davenport, Iowa, the son of Charles August Ficke, a lawyer, and Frances Davison. As a child he traveled extensively with his parents and came to share his father’s interest in art, although his primary interest lay in poetry. He took an A.B. degree from Harvard and a law degree from the University of Iowa and in 1908 settled into legal practice with his father. In 1907 he married Evelyn Bethune Blunt, with whom he had one son....

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Masters, Edgar Lee (23 August 1869–05 March 1950), poet and lawyer, was born in Garnett, Kansas, the son of Hardin Wallace Masters, a lawyer, and Emma J. Dexter. Though his father had moved the family briefly to Kansas to set up a law practice, Masters grew up in the western Illinois farmlands where his grandparents had settled in the 1820s. He was educated in the public schools in Petersburg and Lewistown (where he worked as a newspaper printer after school) and spent a year in an academy school hoping to gain admission to Knox College. Instead of entering college, he read law with his father and, after a brief stint as a bill collector in Chicago, formed a law partnership in 1893 with Kickham Scanlan....

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Trumbull, John (24 April 1750–11 May 1831), poet and judge, was born in Watertown, Connecticut, the son of the Reverend John Trumbull and Sarah Whitman, a remarkably well-educated woman for her time. Taught by his parents, Trumbull was considered an intellectual prodigy and was admitted to Yale College at age seven, but he delayed entry until 1763. After graduating in 1767 he remained in New Haven until 1770, beginning his career as a poet in 1769 with “Epithalamion” and “The Meddler.” These began the career of one of the most prominent figures in early American writing....