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Margaret Anderson. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-112044).

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Anderson, Margaret (24 November 1886–19 October 1973), editor and author, was born Margaret Carolyn Anderson in Indianapolis, Indiana, the daughter of Arthur Aubrey Anderson and Jessie Shortridge. Anderson’s father was a railway executive who provided a comfortable middle-class existence for his wife and three daughters. Anderson, whose chief interest as a young woman was music and literature, was soon regarded as the rebel of the family. After three years at Western College for Women in Ohio, she dropped out and made her way to Chicago, hoping to find work as a writer. After various stints as a bookstore clerk, print assistant, and part-time critic, Anderson decided to start her own literary journal. With little money but a great deal of enthusiasm and support from friends, Anderson founded the avant-garde ...

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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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Harris, Frank (14 February 1856–26 August 1931), journalist and writer, was born James Thomas Harris in Galway, Ireland, the son of Thomas Vernon Harris, a customs shipmaster, and Anne Thomas. He was raised in a nonconformist family of Pembrokeshire stock, and in his early years the family moved about within Ireland. He was educated in Britain and at age fifteen, having finished school, he used a cash prize to buy a steerage ticket to the United States. He moved from New York to Illinois and Texas doing odd jobs, including, he always claimed, a stint as a cowboy, finally settling for a time in Kansas. This, and much else of his life, would be elaborated on in his sensational and infamous autobiography, and would become the basis for some of his fiction. The facts of his life often conflicted with his elaborate fantasies. He began studying for a degree at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, and though various accounts of his career in Lawrence exist, it is certain that he was admitted to the bar there in 1875....

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Holbrook, James (1812–28 April 1864), postal official and journalist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of unknown parents. Holbrook grew up in Boston, where he was apprenticed to a printer. In 1833, he moved to Connecticut, where he worked as a newspaper editor and in that year married Mary Baker Tyler. He and Tyler had four children. He edited the ...

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Kirkland, Caroline Matilda (11 January 1801–06 April 1864), writer and editor, was born in New York City, the daughter of Samuel Stansbury, a businessman, and Eliza Alexander. While the family’s financial situation fluctuated with her father’s various business ventures, Caroline, by virtue of the Stansburys’ high social standing, received an above-average education for a female in the early nineteenth century, chiefly in schools run by a Quaker aunt. She spent her early adulthood as a teacher, both before and after her marriage to William Kirkland, also an educator, in 1828. Together they founded a girls’ school in Geneva, New York, shortly after their marriage....

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Matthews, Thomas Stanley (16 January 1901–04 January 1991), magazine editor and memoirist, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the son of Paul Clement Matthews, an Episcopal priest, later bishop of New Jersey, and Elsie Procter, an heiress of a founder of the Procter & Gamble Company. His grandfather ...

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McAlmon, Robert Menzies (09 March 1895–02 February 1956), writer and publisher, was born in Clifton, Kansas, the son of John Alexander McAlmon, a Presbyterian minister, and Bess Urquhart. McAlmon spent an unsettled boyhood in a succession of small towns in eastern South Dakota. In 1913 he entered the University of Minnesota but withdrew after one semester. He then roamed the upper Midwest working on surveying and grain-harvesting gangs and as a reporter and copywriter; he later based many short stories on these experiences. Moving to Los Angeles with his mother after his father’s death (1917?), he enrolled at the University of Southern California. But a desultory student, believing that college stifled rather than encouraged creativity and critical thinking, he never earned a degree....

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Morris, Willie (29 November 1934–02 August 1999), writer and editor, was born William Weaks Morris in Jackson, Mississippi, the son of Henry Rae Morris, a gas station owner, and Marion Weaks Morris, a part-time piano teacher from a long line of Deep South gentility. Morris counted among his ancestors governors, senators, and the founders of Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now W.Va.). Born into the “old, impoverished, whipped-down South” ( ...

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Thompson, Era Bell (10 August 1906–30 December 1986), author and editor, was born in Des Moines, Iowa, the daughter of Stewart C. Thompson and Mary Logan. In 1914 she moved with her family to Driscoll, North Dakota, where her father was a farmer and, from 1917 to 1921, a private messenger for Governor ...