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Bennett, Gwendolyn (08 July 1902–30 May 1981), writer and artist, was born in Giddings, Texas, the daughter of Joshua Robin Bennett and Mayme F. Abernathy, teachers on a Native American reservation. In 1906 the family moved to Washington, D.C., where Bennett’s father studied law and her mother worked as a manicurist and hairdresser. Her parents divorced and her mother won custody, but her father kidnapped the seven-year-old Gwendolyn. The two, with her stepmother, lived in hiding in various towns along the East Coast and in Pennsylvania before finally settling in New York....

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Bliven, Bruce (27 July 1889–27 May 1977), journalist, was born in Emmetsburg, Iowa, the son of Charles F. Bliven and Lilla C. Ormsby. After graduating from the Emmetsburg public schools, Bliven received his A.B. from Stanford University in 1911. While in college he was the paid Stanford reporter of the San Francisco ...

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Brann, William Cowper (04 January 1855–02 April 1898), journalist and writer, was born in Coles County, Illinois, the son of Noble J. Brann, a Presbyterian minister. When his mother (name unknown) died two years later, his father placed him with a family named Hawkins. At the age of thirteen he left his foster family and also ended his formal education at third grade. Over the next eight years Brann held numerous odd jobs, including railroad work, pitching for a semiprofessional baseball team, and managing a forty-person opera company....

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Forbes, B. C. (14 May 1880–06 May 1954), financial journalist and publisher, was born Robert Charles Forbes in New Deer, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, the son of Robert Forbes, a tailor who became a beer shop owner, and Agnes Moir. Bertie Forbes, as he was always known personally and professionally, herded cattle for neighbors, worked as a shoeshine boy, and helped harvest crops in New Deer, a village described by his son Malcolm as “a wee Highland hamlet” ( ...

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Fry, Varian (15 October 1907–13 September 1967), editor, journalist, and teacher, was born on West 150th Street in Manhattan, the only child of Arthur Fry, a partner in a small Wall Street brokerage firm, and Lillian Mackey Fry, a Hunter College graduate who taught school until her marriage. Two years after their son's birth the couple moved to Ridgewood, New Jersey. At age fourteen, Fry was sent to the prestigious Hotchkiss Prep School in Lakeville, Connecticut, where he remained for two unhappy years. Bright but unruly and rebellious, he tangled with the school authorities and by mutual consent left Hotchkiss in 1924 for the Taft Prep School in Watertown, Connecticut, where he remained for less than six months. Enrolled in 1925 at the Riverdale Country School, he commuted to classes in a new four-door Packard given to him by his father. At one point during that year, the headmaster suspended Fry for "loss of control and unpardonable impertinence," adding however that his "mind is in many respects brilliant" and that he had "clear possibilities of genius." He was accepted by Harvard University in 1926, and his freshman year was spent in a frenzy of intellectual and social activity. Together with a classmate, ...

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Godkin, Edwin Lawrence (02 October 1831–21 May 1902), magazine and newspaper writer and editor, was born in Moyne, near Dublin, Ireland, of English heritage, the son of James Godkin, a minister, and Sarah Lawrence. In 1851 Godkin took his degree from Queen’s College, Belfast, where he had been introduced to the Utilitarianism of John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham and, in general, acquired a liberal, upper middle-class, socially conscious education. “John Stuart Mill was our prophet,” Godkin recalled, “and [George] Grote and Bentham were our daily food” ( ...

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Godwin, Parke (25 February 1816–07 January 1904), journalist and editor, was born in Paterson, New Jersey, the son of Abraham Godwin, a manufacturer and merchant, and Martha Parke. After graduating from Princeton in 1834, he returned to Paterson to study law. He lived briefly in Louisville, Kentucky, where he was admitted to the bar, but before establishing a practice, he moved to New York City. There he met ...

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Green, Abel (03 June 1900–10 May 1973), entertainment journalist and editor, was born in New York City, the son of Seymour Green, a manufacturer, and Berta Raines. He was educated in public schools and attended New York University for one year. In 1919 Green left college to take a job writing obituaries and Tin Pan Alley squibs at ...

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Hamilton, Thomas (26 April 1823–29 May 1865), journalist and antislavery activist, was born in New York City, the son of William Hamilton, a carpenter and community leader who participated in the rising abolitionist and black convention movements of the early 1830s. His mother’s name and occupation are not known. Although young Thomas gained a rudimentary education in the city’s African Free Schools and African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, the primary influence on his career choice seems to have been growing up in the Hamilton household, where he was introduced to abolitionism and the reform press at an early age. A few months after his father’s death in 1836, he went to work as a carrier for the ...

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Harman, Moses (12 October 1830–30 January 1910), free-thought and free-love journalist, was born in Pendleton County, Virginia (now West Va.), the son of Job Harman, a hardscrabble farmer and marginal land speculator, and Nancy (maiden name unknown). In pursuit of the main chance, the family relocated four times during Harman’s first ten years, and consequently his formal schooling was limited to a scant few months. Through sheer perseverance, he taught himself to read and by his sixteenth year had so mastered the rudiments that he was able to hire himself out as a teacher. At age eighteen, with the assistance of his family, and with money earned by tutoring his classmates, he entered Arcadia College in Iron County, Missouri, graduating in 1851. Just before the Civil War, he spent one semester of study at the St. Louis Normal School....

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Hearst, William Randolph, Jr. (27 January 1908–14 May 1993), journalist and newspaper publisher, was born in New York City, the son of William Randolph Hearst, a newspaper magnate, and Millicent Willson, a chorus girl. A mediocre student, Hearst attended private schools on the East and West coasts, eventually settling at the Hitchcock Military Academy in San Rafael, California. Hating both discipline and study, Hearst attended the University of California, Berkeley, in 1925. As a liberal arts major he failed to find a focus and left the college halfway through his sophomore year without a degree....

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Jordan, Elizabeth Garver (09 May 1867–24 February 1947), journalist, editor, and fiction writer, was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the daughter of William Francis Jordan, a meat market manager and real estate broker, and Margaretta Garver. A Roman Catholic like her father, Jordan attended the Convent of Notre Dame in Milwaukee. She published a short story in the ...

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La Follette, Suzanne (1893–23 April 1983), feminist, writer, and editor, was born Clara La Follette on her family’s 1,000-acre ranch near Pullman, Washington, the daughter of William LeRoy La Follette, a rancher, and Mary Tabor. La Follette “grew up on horseback,” roaming the unfenced ranges of the Snake River Canyon, an unspoiled area where Jeffersonian lifestyles and values still held sway. A product of this environment, from an early age she placed great value on individual liberty and feared the intrusive power of the state....

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Ronald S. Marmarelli

Lawrence, David (25 December 1888–11 February 1973), journalist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Harris Lawrence, a tailor, and Dora Cohen. Both of his parents were recent immigrants from England. The family moved to Buffalo, New York, soon after his birth. While a student at Princeton University, Lawrence worked as an Associated Press campus correspondent. His work earned him a summer job in the AP’s Philadelphia bureau in 1908 and 1909 and, after receiving his degree from Princeton, a full-time job there in 1910....

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H. L. Mencken Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1932. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-42489).

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Mencken, H. L. (12 September 1880–29 January 1956), author, editor, and journalist, was born Henry Louis Mencken in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of August Mencken, a cigar manufacturer, and Anna Abhau. Having emigrated from Germany during the mid-nineteenth century, the Menckens and Abhaus had quickly adapted to life in the United States, and they provided a home more Victorian than German-American for their four children. Henry Mencken, the eldest, did attend a private German school for his earliest education, but he completed his formal education at Baltimore Polytechnic, a high school primarily responsible for producing engineers and technicians....

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Niles, Hezekiah (10 October 1777–02 August 1839), journalist and historical documentarian, was born near Chadds Ford in Chester County, Pennsylvania, the son of Hezekiah Niles, a carpenter, and Mary Way. Two months before his birth, his Quaker family had fled their home in Wilmington, Delaware, to escape invading British soldiers. Niles’s father was killed shortly before the boy’s fourteenth birthday when a signpost fell on him as he was leaving his carpentry shop. Niles was probably educated at the Friends School in Wilmington before becoming apprenticed at the age of seventeen to Benjamin Johnson, a printer, bookbinder, and bookseller. Johnson was a surrogate father, affording the eager boy continuing education by giving him free access to his library. Niles rose early each morning to read before going to work, where he was just as diligent, achieving while still young a reputation as the quickest, most efficient typesetter in America....

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Rice, Charles Allen Thorndike (18 June 1851–16 May 1889), editor, publisher, and journalist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Henry Gardner Rice, a merchant, and Elizabeth Francis Thorndike. Although the marriage of Henry Rice and Elizabeth Thorndike merged two wealthy mercantile families of New York and Boston, it was not a happy one. They obtained a divorce in 1859, and Rice won custody of young Charles in an 1860 case heard before the Massachusetts Supreme Court. Elizabeth Thorndike responded by arranging for the kidnapping of her son. Charles’s playmate ...

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Rochester, Anna (30 March 1880–11 May 1966), Marxist economist, writer, and editor, was born in New York City to Louise Agatha Bamman Rochester, a former schoolteacher, and Roswell Hart Rochester, treasurer of Western Union Telegraph Company. Raised an only child in a wealthy suburb of New York, Anna spent her childhood in the company of hired companions and nurses while her mother suffered from trigeminal neuralgia. She attended the Dwight School for Girls in Englewood, New Jersey, and proved especially adept at languages, becoming fluent in German and French....

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Gilbert Seldes Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1932. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LOT 12735, no. 1019 P&P).