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Burgess, Gelett (30 January 1866–18 September 1951), author, editor, and illustrator, was born Frank Gelett Burgess in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Thomas Harvey Burgess, a well-to-do painting contractor, and Caroline Matilda Brooks, a genteel Unitarian. After graduating from the English High School in Boston, Burgess attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned his B.S. in 1887. To avoid perceived restrictions of life in New England, he became a draftsman on survey work with the Southern Pacific Railroad (1888–1891), hiked and sketched his way through France and Spain, and instructed topographical drawing at the University of California at Berkeley (1891–1894). He was dismissed from his academic post for pulling down a cast-iron statue of Henry Cogswell, a prominent local dentist revered as a philanthropic teetotaler. Burgess designed furniture for a San Francisco firm at minimal pay, lived on Russian Hill, and puzzled his neighbors by appearing at odd hours with his 5′ 4″ frame draped in vivid capes....

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Day, Clarence Shepard, Jr. (18 November 1874–28 December 1935), author, illustrator, and humorist, was born in New York City, the son of Clarence Shepard Day, a stockbroker, and Lavinia Elizabeth Stockwell. As the son of a prominent businessman, Day followed the “traditional route” for those in his social class. He was educated at St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire, received a B.A. from Yale in 1896, and went to work with his father. Day, Sr., a governor of the New York Stock Exchange, presented Clarence with a seat on the exchange in 1897, and in 1898 the son became a partner at Clarence S. Day and Company....

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Frost, Arthur Burdett (17 January 1851–22 June 1928), illustrator, painter, and author, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Frost, a bibliographer, and Sarah Ann Burdett, a painter. He was eight years old when his father died, and by the time he was fifteen he was working, first for a wood engraver and then for a lithographer. During these early years he took evening classes at the Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts, working briefly under ...

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Herford, Oliver (01 December 1863–05 July 1935), poet, illustrator, and wit, was born Oliver Brooke Herford in Sheffield, England, the son of Brooke Herford, a Unitarian minister, and Hannah Hankinson. His father, a noted clergyman, editor, and author of hymns, brought his wife and nine children to the United States on a visit in 1875 and was persuaded to remain as minister of the Church of the Messiah in Chicago. In 1882 or 1883 the family moved to Boston, where Dr. Herford served at the Arlington Street Church and as a preacher at Harvard until returning to England in 1893. Oliver studied at a boarding school in Lancaster, England, before coming to the United States, and he attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, from 1877 to 1879. He withdrew to study at the Art Institute of Chicago and later at the Museum of Fine Arts School in Boston. He continued his art studies in Germany, at the Slade School in London, and at the Académie Julian in Paris....

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James Thurber With Peggy Cass, left, and Joan Anderson, 1960.

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Thurber, James (08 December 1894–02 November 1961), writer and cartoonist, was born James Grover Thurber in Columbus, Ohio, the son of Charles Leander Thurber, a political clerk, and Mary Agnes Fisher. In 1901 the Thurbers moved to Falls Church, Virginia, near Washington, where Thurber’s father had a job as secretary for a congressman. The next year, Thurber was blinded in his left eye by an arrow in a game of William Tell with his two brothers. That year, Thurber’s father lost his job when his employer was not renominated, and the family returned to Columbus. Thurber attended local schools and was elected president of his senior class at East High, from which he graduated with honors in 1913. He enrolled at Ohio State University but dropped out in his sophomore year “just to read.” He returned in 1915, became an editor of the college daily newspaper and editor in chief of the humor monthly magazine, acted for the drama club, and formed a close friendship with classmate ...