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Malcolm Cowley Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1963. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-106863).

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Cowley, Malcolm (24 August 1898–28 March 1989), literary critic and editor, was born in a farmhouse near Belsano, Pennsylvania, the son of William Cowley, a homeopathic physician, and Josephine Hutmacher. After attending Pittsburgh public schools, in which he began a lifelong friendship with the critic ...

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Dennie, Joseph (30 August 1768–07 January 1812), essayist, critic, and editor, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Joseph Dennie, a merchant, and Mary Green. To avoid the hostilities that threatened Boston, the family moved in 1775 to Lexington, Massachusetts, where they remained. In 1783 Dennie was sent back to Boston to prepare for a commercial career. After working for James Swan, Dennie went to live and study with the Reverend Samuel West of Needham, who prepared him for college. Dennie entered Harvard in 1787 as a sophomore; although suspended for the spring term in 1790 for insubordination to the tutors, he managed to graduate on time by continuing his studies with another minister in Groton. Soured by his collegiate experience, Dennie frequently denounced Harvard in both public and private writings....

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Frederick Eckman. Photograph by Martha Eckman, 27 Oct. 1989. Courtesy of Martha Eckman and David Adams.

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Eckman, Frederick (27 October 1924–28 October 1996), poet, editor, scholar, and teacher, was born Frederick Willis Eckman in Continental, Ohio, the son of Hector B. Eckman, a mechanic, and Helen E. Osborn Eckman. Fred Eckman grew up in the environs of small-town, rural Ohio and attended public schools. His affinity for language and the dramatic emerged early. He read voraciously, and schoolmates recall impromptu dramatic productions in barns and garages. During World War II, he served as a surgical technician in the U.S. Army and enrolled in premedical courses at the University of Florida. Following his discharge in 1946, Eckman enrolled at Ohio State University, majoring in English. He married Mary Louise Drummer Campbell in March of 1947; a son, Thomas Frederick Eckman, was born the following October....

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Eliot, T. S. (26 September 1888–04 January 1965), poet, critic, and editor, was born Thomas Stearns Eliot in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Henry Ware Eliot, president of the Hydraulic-Press Brick Company, and Charlotte Champe Stearns, a former teacher, an energetic social work volunteer at the Humanity Club of St. Louis, and an amateur poet with a taste for ...

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T.S. Eliot. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109122).

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Freeman, Joseph (07 October 1897–09 August 1965), writer, was born Joseph Lvovovitch in Ukraine, Russia, the son of Isaac Lvovovitch, a merchant, and Stella (maiden name unknown). After experiencing poverty and brutal anti-Semitism in Ukraine as a child, Freeman came to the United States in 1904 and grew up in Brooklyn, where he faced anti-Semitism from other immigrant groups and teachers. His father changed the family name after they immigrated. Growing up in a world where his father rose to become a prosperous builder, Freeman found himself combining aspirations for higher educational and professional status with a mix of socialist and labor Zionist beliefs. Influenced by this background, Freeman considered himself a socialist when he entered Columbia College in 1916 to study literature....

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Fuller, Hoyt William (10 September 1927–11 May 1981), editor and literary critic, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Thomas Fuller and Lillie Beatrice Ellafair Thomas. A member of the African-American middle class, Fuller was raised in Detroit, Michigan, and came of age against the backdrop of the violent race riots in that city in 1943....

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Gilder, Jeannette Leonard (03 October 1849–17 January 1916), editor, literary critic, and author, was born in Flushing, New York, the daughter of Reverend William Henry Gilder, the principal of a Long Island seminary for girls, and Jane Nutt. Because of frequent changes in employment, Reverend Gilder moved about considerably during Jeannette’s childhood; he left the seminary in Flushing to take Methodist congregations in Redding and in Fair Haven, Pennsylvania, then later opened another school in Yonkers, New York. Jeannette’s childhood years were spent in Flushing and in Bordentown, New Jersey, the home of her mother’s family; there Jeannette received most of her erratic education. The Gilders settled permanently in Bordentown after the death of Reverend Gilder, in 1864, from smallpox contracted while he served as a Methodist chaplain in the Union army....

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Loveman, Amy (16 May 1881–11 December 1955), editor and literary critic, was born in New York City, the daughter of Adolph P. Loveman, a cotton broker, and Adassa Heilprin. In 1901 she received an A.B. from Barnard College. Remaining in New York City, she worked as a volunteer in a settlement house and as a tutor, then assisted Louis Heilprin, her uncle, in editing and revising reference books. In 1915 she began working at the ...

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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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Christopher Morley Photograph by Arnold Genthe, 1930. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-G412-T-5716-017).

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Morley, Christopher Darlington (05 May 1890–28 March 1957), man of letters and editor, was born in Haverford, Pennsylvania, the son of Frank Morley, a mathematics professor at Haverford College, and Lilian Janet Bird, a musician and poet. She taught him to read, and he soon became a voracious reader. The family moved in 1900 to Baltimore, Maryland, where Morley’s father taught at Johns Hopkins University and Morley attended school and frequented the Enoch Pratt Library. He enrolled at Haverford College in 1906, published in the school’s ...

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Edgar Allan Poe Photograph by W. S. Hartshorn, 1848. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-104482).

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Poe, Edgar Allan (19 January 1809–07 October 1849), fiction writer, poet, and critic, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the second son of David Poe, Jr., and Elizabeth Arnold, actors. During an engagement in New York, David Poe deserted his family. Within two years, Eliza gave birth to a daughter—by another man, it was rumored—and fell seriously ill, perhaps from an infectious fever. Likely with her children present, she died in Richmond, Virginia, on 8 December 1811, at the age of twenty-four....

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Rahv, Philip (10 March 1908–22 December 1973), literary critic and editor, was born Ivan Greenberg in Kupin in Ukraine. The family ran a dry-goods store in a Jewish ghetto, and in 1916 Rahv’s father (first name unknown) emigrated to the United States where he became a house-to-house peddler in Rhode Island. In 1922, following a harrowing escape from the civil war-torn Soviet Union with his mother, Aviva Greenberg, Rahv and his family were briefly united for two years in Providence, Rhode Island, before moving to Palestine....

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Scudder, Horace Elisha (16 October 1838–11 January 1902), editor and author, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Charles Scudder, a well-to-do hardware and commission merchant, and Sarah Lathrop Coit. The family was active in the Congregational church. Scudder attended the Roxbury Latin School, the Boston Latin School, and then Williams College, edited the ...

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Trowbridge, John Townsend (18 September 1827–12 February 1916), writer, was born in Ogden, New York, the son of Windsor Stone Trowbridge and Rebecca Willey, farmers. Trowbridge was mostly self-educated. After turning thirteen he helped on the family farm during the summer and could only attend school in the winter, but he spent all of his spare time reading from the town’s subscription library. When he was seventeen his father died, and Trowbridge left the farm to attend a classical school in Lockport. After a year in school he taught briefly at various district schools, then moved to New York City to devote his time fully to the writing he had been experimenting with since he was thirteen....