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Arvin, Newton (23 August 1900–22 March 1963), literary critic and educator, was born Frederick Newton Arvin, Jr., in Valparaiso, Indiana, the son of Frederick Newton Arvin, Sr., an insurance agent often away on business, and Jessie Hawkins. Arvin was rather dominated by his mother, grandmother, and four sisters, and was unfortunately regarded by his jeering father as weak and effeminate. After graduating from his local high school, he attended Harvard University (where he was greatly influenced by ...

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Bacon, Leonard (26 May 1887–01 January 1954), poet, literary critic, and teacher, was born in Solvay, New York, the son of Nathaniel Terry Bacon, a chemical engineer, and Helen Hazard. Bacon led a sheltered life at his mother’s familial estate in Peace Dale, Rhode Island. His parents enrolled him in 1898 in St. George’s at Newport, where he spent seven years preparing to matriculate at Yale, following in the footsteps not only of his father but of some twenty other relatives. Bacon gives candid insight into his college years, remembering colleagues and professors in an amiable light though remarking that “with the exception of English and German, I think we were not particularly well taught, or rather that the conception of teaching was poor” ( ...

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Baker, Carlos Heard (05 May 1909–18 April 1987), educator, author, and literary critic, was born in Biddeford, Maine, the son of Arthur Baker and Edna Heard. He grew up in what he called a “yankee and the nineteenth century German” tradition and had a great passion for literature even as a child. While still a college student, he published a collection of poems, ...

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Beach, Joseph Warren (14 January 1880–13 August 1957), educator, literary critic, and poet, was born in Gloversville, New York, the son of Eugene Beach, a physician, and Sarah Jessup Warren. After graduating from a public high school there, he attended the University of Minnesota, where his uncle Cyrus Northrop was president. He earned his B.A. in English in 1900 and moved on to Harvard University, where he received his M.A. in 1902 and his Ph.D. in 1907, both in English. At Harvard Beach studied under philosopher ...

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Boyesen, Hjalmar Hjorth (23 September 1848–04 October 1895), author and educator, was born in Fredriksvaern, Norway, the son of Sarolf Boyesen, a mathematics instructor in the naval academy there, and Hanna (or Helga) Tveten Hjorth, the foster daughter of Judge Hjorth of Systrand. In 1854 Sarolf Boyesen, out of favor because he had joined the Swedenborgian church, sent his family to Judge Hjorth and entered the American army, for a period of two years. Hjalmar Boyesen loved the natural setting of Systrand, relished the servants’ folktales there, was sad when he was sent away to school, and found consolation in reading and writing. He attended Latin school at Drammen and Gymnasium at Christiania and graduated from the Royal Fredriks University in 1868—adept in several languages. He obtained family permission to go to the United States, which his father had extolled as the land of freedom and opportunity....

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Brooks, Cleanth (16 October 1906–10 May 1994), teacher, critic, and scholar, was born in Murray, Kentucky, the son of Cleanth Brooks, Sr., an Episcopalian minister, and Bessie Lee Witherspoon. The family soon moved to Tennessee where his father served a number of parishes near Memphis. Despite their peripatetic lifestyle, Cleanth’s parents helped their shy, precocious son to find the stability that he needed by encouraging in him a devotion to the great literature of the world. Eventually, Cleanth attended the Mc Tyeire School, where, in addition to the standard academic fare of the era, he learned Greek and Latin and continued the education in classical literature that had begun at age five with his father’s present of a collections of tales from the ...

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Canby, Henry Seidel (06 September 1878–05 April 1961), educator, author, and editor, was born in Wilmington, Delaware, the son of Edward Tatnell Canby, a founder and president of the Delaware Trust Company, and Ella Augusta Seidel. Though reared in an Episcopalian family, Canby attended Quaker schools and then entered Yale, where he edited two undergraduate literary papers and earned his Ph.B. in 1899. While studying for his Ph.D. in English literature (1905) and afterward, he taught at Yale (1900–1916). He was the first professor at Yale to offer courses in American literature. Early in his career, he championed the work of ...

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Clifford, James Lowry (24 February 1901–07 April 1978), biographer, literary critic, and professor of literature, was born in Evansville, Indiana, the son of George Clifford, a businessman and amateur astronomer, and Emily Orr. In 1918 he attended Wabash College in nearby Crawfordsville, where he studied science, graduating in 1923 with an A.B. and Phi Beta Kappa honors. Two years later he received a B.S. in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After several years in business back in Evansville, managing the manufacture of railroad coal cars, he relocated to Tucson, Arizona, where he taught mathematics, polo, and English at a preparatory school. Discovering in his teaching a love of literature, he entered the graduate program in English at Columbia University in 1931 and gained his M.A. the next year....

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Dykes, Eva Beatrice (13 August 1893–29 October 1986), scholar and educator, was born in Washington, D.C., the daughter of James Stanley Dykes and Martha Ann Howard. Eva Dykes graduated from M. Street High (later Paul Laurence Dunbar High School) in 1910. As valedictorian of her class, she won from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority a $10 scholarship to attend Howard University, where she graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English in 1914. After a year of teaching Latin and English at the now defunct Walden University in Nashville, Tennessee, and for another year elsewhere, she was urged by James Howard, a physician and uncle on her mother’s side, to enter Radcliffe College in 1916. Subsequently, she earned a second B.A. in English, magna cum laude, in 1917. Elected Phi Beta Kappa, she received an M.A. in English in 1918 and a Ph.D. in English philology in 1921. Her dissertation was titled “Pope and His Influence in America from 1715 to 1850.”...

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Engle, Paul (12 Oct. 1908–22 March 1991), poet, literary critic, and educator, was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the son of Thomas Allen, a horse trader, and Evelyn (Reinheimer) Engle. He was educated at local schools, helped his father in the livery stable, and worked as a newsboy selling papers on the streets, a carrier boy, a chauffeur, a gardener, and, for many years, a drugstore clerk. He began writing poetry at Washington High School and was elected class poet. At Coe College in Cedar Rapids, he studied English literature, American history, and languages, and was awarded a B.A. in ...

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Foerster, Norman (14 April 1887–01 August 1972), professor of literature and literary critic, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Adolph Martin Foerster, a composer and musician, and Henrietta Reineman. Foerster graduated from Harvard College in 1910 and received an A.M. degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1912. In 1911 he married Dorothy Haskell, with whom he had two children. After teaching English at the University of Wisconsin (1911–1914) and the University of North Carolina (1914–1930), he served as the first director of the School of Letters at the University of Iowa (1930–1944). He later taught at Duke University (1948–1951), and he held offices in the Modern Language Association and the College English Association....

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Greenlaw, Edwin Almiron (06 April 1874–10 September 1931), Renaissance scholar and educator, was born in Flora, Illinois, the son of Thomas Brewer Greenlaw, educator and newspaper publisher, and Emma Julia Leverich. At age twelve he entered Chester High School and quickly became its top student, graduating two years later. He studied at Chester High School for an additional year after graduation, then taught classes in telegraphy, shorthand, literature, and business at Orchard City College. He entered Illinois College in 1893 but interrupted his education after a year to accept the presidency of Orchard City College. After serving two years at Orchard, he entered Northwestern University in February 1896, graduating with an A.B. in history in 1897 and an M.A. in history in 1898. In September 1898 he married Mary Elizabeth Durland; they had three children....

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Hoffman, Frederick John (21 September 1909–24 December 1967), professor of English and literary critic, was born in Port Washington, Wisconsin, the son of Henry George Hoffmann, owner of a small family hotel, and Celia Rose Goldammer. He was brought up a Roman Catholic in a family of nine children, all of whom worked in the family hotel during their formative years. Frederick J. Hoffman, as he came to be known through his writings, dropped the second “n” from his surname as a young man....

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Hubbell, Jay Broadus (08 May 1885–13 February 1979), university teacher and literary historian, was born in Smyth County, Virginia, the son of David Shelton Hubbell, a Baptist minister, and Ruth Eller. He was educated at Richmond College (B.A., 1905), Harvard University (M.A., 1908), and Columbia University (Ph.D., 1922), teaching in the meantime at the University of North Carolina (1908–1909), Wake Forest College (1911–1914), and Southern Methodist University (1915–1927), with time out for service in World War I as a first lieutenant in the field artillery (1918–1919). In 1918 he married Lucinda Smith of Dallas, Texas, one of his students at Southern Methodist University (SMU) and the daughter of a well-known attorney. The couple had two sons, Jay Broadus Hubbell, Jr., who frequently served as his father’s research assistant, and David Smith Hubbell, a physician. After his return from the war, Hubbell became chair of the Department of English and E. A. Lilly Professor of English at SMU and edited the ...

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Koch, Vivienne (1911–29 November 1961), educator and literary critic, was born in New York City, the daughter of John Desider Koch, a manufacturer, and Helen Karman. As children, Vivienne and her brother and sister were often cared for by their Hungarian immigrant grandparents and by a German nurse, so they grew up trilingual. Vivienne’s early education was at public schools in New York City. She later attended Washington Square College, a division of New York University. Her initial interest as an undergraduate was in theater, but during her sophomore year she felt unsatisfied with the intellectual challenges it offered, and her interest switched to literature and philosophy. She received her B.A. in 1932 and went on to Columbia University, where she received her M.A. with the completion of her thesis on Anton Chekhov in 1933....

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Matthiessen, F. O. (19 February 1902–01 April 1950), educator, literary critic, and scholar, was born Francis Otto Matthiessen in Pasadena, California, the son of Frederic William Matthiessen, Jr., and Lucy Orne Pratt. Matthiessen’s grandfather had emigrated from Germany to La Salle, Illinois, founded the Western Clock Corporation (later the Westclox Corporation), and died in 1918, leaving an estate of approximately $10 million. Matthiessen’s father was spoiled as a youth and unsettled as an adult, became a spendthrift and a philanderer, deserted his wife and their four children in 1907, and was divorced in 1915. Matthiessen’s mother lived with her children during some of these years in her father-in-law’s La Salle home....

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Millett, Fred Benjamin (19 February 1890–01 January 1976), educator and literary critic, was born in Brockton, Massachusetts, the son of Daniel Edwin Millett, a skilled shoe factory worker, and Mary Avalina Churchill Porter. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Amherst College (A.B., 1912), he taught at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario (lecturer in English, 1912–1916), the University of Chicago (fellow in English, 1916–1918), and—after service as a U.S. Army private from May to December 1918—at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (assistant professor, 1919–1926; associate professor, 1927). In 1927 he returned as an assistant professor to the University of Chicago, where he received his Ph.D. in 1931 and was promoted to associate professor in 1933. In 1937 he joined the faculty of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, as a visiting professor of English on a two-year appointment that became permanent....

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Pattee, Fred Lewis (22 March 1863–06 May 1950), educator and author, was born on Pattee Hill, his paternal grandfather’s farm near Bristol, New Hampshire, the son of Lewis Franklin Pattee, a farmer, and Mary Philbrick Ingalls, a former mill worker. He attended public schools in Bristol and nearby South Alexandria. From May to October 1879 Pattee worked for a Bristol lawyer who had a sizable library where he read many books. He worked as a printer’s devil for a Bristol weekly until 1882, then studied at New Hampton Institution, a few miles outside Bristol, graduating in 1883. He worked on Block Island, Rhode Island, as a printer and waiter until 1884 and then entered Dartmouth College. He helped finance his education by teaching part-time in Candia, New Hampshire, and Bowdoinham, Maine. During his senior year he edited the ...

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Payne, William Morton (14 February 1858–11 July 1919), writer, translator, and educator, was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, the son of Henry Morton Payne, a manufacturer of machinery for cotton mills, and Emma Tilton. In 1868 the Paynes relocated to Chicago, where William continued his primary and secondary schooling and displayed a keen interest in literature. Financial difficulties ruled out further formal education but failed to deter young Payne from avidly pursuing self-education. Payne, who never married, remained in Chicago for the duration of his life and became one of that city’s better-known citizens....

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Pottle, Frederick Albert (03 August 1897–16 May 1987), literary scholar, author, and academician, was born in Center Lovell, Maine, the son of Fred Leroy Pottle and Annette Kemp. Raised on a farm in Otisfield, Maine, Pottle received his primary education in an ungraded one-room schoolhouse. He attended Colby College in Waterville, Maine, where he fell under the spell of literature, notably the work of the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Graduating in 1917, Pottle volunteered during World War I as a surgical assistant with an evacuation hospital unit and served in France and Germany....