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Aldrich, Thomas Bailey (11 November 1836–19 March 1907), author and editor, was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the son of Elias Taft Aldrich, a businessman, and Sarah Abba Bailey. Aldrich was educated in Portsmouth under Samuel De Merritt, and the Portsmouth environs furnished the background for much of his work, as did the backdrops of New York City and Boston, where he spent his adult life. Aldrich moved to New York City at age sixteen to work in his uncle’s commission house. After reading ...

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Angoff, Charles (22 April 1902–03 May 1979), editor and author, was born in Minsk, Russia, the son of Jacob Joseph Angoff, an unskilled laborer, and Anna Pollack. Young Angoff grew up in the Jewish immigrant neighborhoods of Boston, where his family moved in 1909 and which he later used as a backdrop for his fiction. Entering Harvard University on scholarship in 1919, Angoff studied philosophy with ...

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Arthur, Timothy Shay (06 June 1809–06 March 1885), editor, temperance crusader, and novelist, was born in Orange County, New York, the son of William Arthur and Anna Shay, occupations unknown. He was named for his maternal grandfather, Timothy Shay, an officer in the revolutionary war. By his mid-twenties, Arthur had yet to identify a profession or receive an education. In the 1830s, however, he began an intense program of self-education as well as a writing career as a journalist in Baltimore, where he quickly became a well-known and articulate champion of numerous social causes including temperance, Swedenborgianism, feminism, and socialism. In 1836 he married Eliza Alden; they had seven children....

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Ballou, Maturin Murray (14 April 1820–27 March 1895), writer, editor, and publisher, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Rev. Hosea Ballou and Ruth Washburn. His father was a distinguished Universalist minister and the author of more than 100 books. Ballou attended Boston’s English High School and, as a teenager, contributed travel sketches and other pieces to his cousin ...

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Charles Brockden Brown. Watercolor on ivory, 1806, by William Dunlap. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; given in loving memory of Katharine Lea Hancock by her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

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Brown, Charles Brockden (17 January 1771–22 February 1810), novelist, historian, and editor, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Elijah Brown, a merchant and land conveyancer, and Mary Armitt. The fifth of six children in a prosperous Quaker family in the nation’s most cosmopolitan city and first capital, Brown was shaped in his early years by his Quaker background and the era’s tumultuous revolutionary politics. From 1781 to 1786 he received a classics-oriented secondary education under Robert Proud at the Friends’ Latin School of Philadelphia and displayed an enthusiasm for literary composition. Although his earliest work is lost, he composed derivative poetry in the “primitive” vein, based on the Psalms and Ossian and planned but never completed verse epics on the exploits of Columbus, Pizarro, and Cortez. The period’s political and ideological conflicts touched Brown’s family directly when revolutionary authorities exiled his father to Virginia for several months, deeming the father’s Quaker position of principled neutrality an aid to the British. While Brown’s Quaker background facilitated his early exposure to progressive British dissenting writers such as William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, who would become crucial influences, it left him outside the period’s Congregationalist and Presbyterian cultural elite and predisposed him to his lifelong stance of reasoned skepticism of utopian or perfectionist notions for political change. That is, Brown’s background and early years helped shape his career-long concern with the violent ideological controversies of the early republic, as well as his characteristic tendency to see both the destructive and productive aspects of the period’s far-reaching political upheavals....

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Bunner, Henry Cuyler (03 August 1855–11 May 1896), author, was born in Oswego, New York, the son of Rudolph Bunner, a lawyer and editor, and Ruth Tuckerman. Bunner had a nomadic boyhood; his family moved frequently, living in several places in and around New York City, which became the locus of his literary works. Educated with the intent of attending Columbia College, he was unable to enroll because of his father’s financial difficulties. After a brief, unhappy stint with L. E. Amsinck & Company, a wine importing firm, he turned to journalism. He contributed several pieces to the short-lived ...

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Burnett, Whit (14 August 1899–22 April 1973), anthologist, editor, and short story writer, was born Whitney Ewing Burnett in Salt Lake City, Utah, the son of Benjamin James Burnett, a contractor, and Anna Marian Christensen. He began his career in 1916 working as a reporter for a newspaper in Salt Lake City. His other early positions included reporter for the ...

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Campbell, John W., Jr. (08 June 1910–11 July 1971), writer and editor, was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of John W. Campbell, an electrical engineer with New Jersey Bell Telephone, and Dorothy Strahorn. Campbell's childhood was unhappy, and he grew up friendless, argumentative, and effectively alone, his only sibling being seven years his junior. Precociously interested in science and engineering, he was sent at age fourteen to Blair Academy in Blairstown, New Jersey. He never graduated but in 1928 enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; in early 1931 he left, having failed German, his language requirement. Campbell married Dona Stuart late in 1931 (there were no children from this marriage) and, supported by his father, enrolled in Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, where he majored in physics. He received a B.S. in 1932....

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Conroy, Jack (05 December 1898–28 February 1990), author and editor, was born John Wesley Conroy in Monkey Nest, a coal-mining camp near Moberly, Missouri, the son of Thomas E. Conroy, a coal miner and union organizer, and Eliza Jane McCollough McKiernan. Conroy’s father was killed in a mine explosion in 1909. Two years later his mother married an unreliable alcoholic; Conroy left school at the age of thirteen to work in a Wabash Railroad car shop in Moberly. He joined two railroad workers’ unions and became an officer in one. In his free time he read voraciously, developed a prodigious memory, attended church and rowdy gatherings alike, and enjoyed listening to old timers’ yarns. When the United States entered World War I, Conroy, though an anticapitalist pacifist, sought to enlist but was rejected because of a heart murmur....

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Curtis, George William (25 February 1824–31 August 1892), writer, editor, and orator, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of George Curtis, a banker and businessman, and Mary Elizabeth Burrill, whose father had been a U.S. senator from and chief justice of Rhode Island. After his mother died in 1826, Curtis and his older brother James Burrill Curtis were cared for by their father and relatives for four years and then attended a boarding school in Jamaica Plains, Massachusetts. In 1835 their father married Julia B. Bridgham, aged twenty-four, and the boys joined them in Providence. Four years later the family moved to New York City, where Curtis was tutored for a short time and then became a counting-house clerk. He and his brother participated in the Brook Farm communal experiment at West Roxbury, outside Boston (1842–1843), returned home for a year, and became farmhands in Concord (1844–1846). During these years, Curtis made enormous intellectual strides through contact with ...

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Dannay, Frederic (20 October 1905–03 September 1982), writer and editor of mystery and detective novels and short stories, was born Daniel Nathan in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Meyer H. Nathan, a liquor dealer, and Dora Walerstein. After graduating from Boys’ High School, Brooklyn, Dannay worked primarily as an advertising copywriter until he became a full-time fiction writer in 1931. He married three times: in 1926 to Mary Beck, with whom he had two children; in 1947 to Hilda Wiesenthal, with whom he had one child before her death in 1972; and in 1976 to Rose Koppel....

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Jessie Redmon Fauset. Oil on canvas, 1945, by Laura Wheeler Waring. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the Harmon Foundation.

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Fauset, Jessie Redmon (27 April 1882–30 April 1961), writer, editor, and teacher, was born outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in Camden County, New Jersey, the daughter of Redmon Fauset, an African Methodist Episcopal minister, and Annie Seamon. Fauset was probably the first black woman at Cornell University, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in classical and modern languages in 1905. She taught briefly in Baltimore before accepting a job teaching French and Latin at the famed all-black M Street (later Dunbar) High School in Washington, D.C. While teaching, Fauset completed an M.A. in French at the University of Pennsylvania (1919)....

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Foley, Martha (21 March 1897–05 September 1977), editor and writer, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Irish-American parents, Walter Foley, a physician, and Millicent McCarty, a schoolteacher who had also written a novel and a book of verse. When both of her parents fell ill, Foley was sent with her half-brother to stay with a family who, she later wrote, “either did not like or did not understand children.” It was a harsh and brutal period in her life, mitigated only, she recalled, by the fact that her parents’ library went with her. “Those books became home to me,” she wrote, “the only home I was to know for a long time.”...

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Ford, Paul Leicester (23 March 1865–08 May 1902), historian and novelist, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Gordon Lester Ford, a businessman and political figure, and Emily Ellsworth Fowler, a poet. As a baby Ford suffered a tragic fall that left him with a severely deformed spine, the pain from which would plague him all his life. Moreover, the nature of the injury dictated that Ford wear a special harness as a child. As a result he received very little formal schooling; instead, he was tutored at home and allowed the free run of his father’s private library of more than 50,000 volumes, including perhaps the largest private collection of Americana in the world. At age eleven he acquired a small printing press, with which he began publishing compilations of historical material gleaned from his father’s library....

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French, Lucy Virginia Smith (16 March 1825–31 March 1881), writer and editor, was born in Accomac County, Virginia, the daughter of Mease W. Smith, a lawyer and educator, and Elizabeth Parker. French’s wealthy and cultured family—dating to the revolutionary war—provided her with a solid education for her extensive writing career. After their mother’s death in 1826, French and her younger sister, Lide, were educated at Miss Foster’s Presbyterian boarding school in Washington, Pennsylvania (her maternal grandmother’s hometown), from which Lucy graduated with honors in 1846. In 1848 she and her sister returned to Virginia, only to leave within the same year because they were unhappy with their father’s remarriage. They moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where both were able to secure teaching jobs. Their self-willed exodus from Virginia strengthened the bond between the sisters, who remained close all their lives....

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Gilman, Caroline Howard (08 October 1794–15 September 1888), writer and editor, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Samuel Howard, a prosperous shipwright who had participated in the Boston Tea Party, and Anna Lillie. Her father died in 1797 and, after her mother’s death in 1804, Gilman spent the rest of her youth with relatives in Concord, Dedham, Watertown, and Cambridge, Massachusetts. At a series of local schools she received the education typically given to young women of the time, although she was taught Latin, which she later recalled as “a great step for that period.” During these years she gave early evidence of literary talent with the composition of an epistolary novel and the publication, when she was sixteen, of a poem, “Jephthah’s Rash Vow.”...

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Gold, Michael (12 April 1893–14 May 1967), radical intellectual and writer, was born Itzok Isaac Granich on the Lower East Side of New York City, son of Chaim Granich and Gittel Schwartz, Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. His father was a storefront manufacturer of suspenders and a peddler but remained destitute all his life. Forced by economic stringency to leave school at age twelve, Mike Gold (at this point calling himself Irwin Granich) held a variety of jobs including night porter and clerk. He said he “had no politics … except hunger,” until he was nineteen. But Gold was radicalized in 1914 when he witnessed and experienced police beatings at a demonstration by the unemployed at Union Square in New York City....

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Hall, James (29 July 1793–05 July 1868), writer and editor, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Hall, the secretary of the Pennsylvania land office and a U.S. marshal, and Sarah Ewing ( Sarah Ewing Hall). He was educated at home until entering an academy in Lamberton, New Jersey, in 1805. He studied law with his uncle Samuel Ewing. In March 1813 Hall volunteered for the Washington Guard, was transferred to the Ordnance Department, was promoted to first lieutenant, and chose his duty to be at the Pittsburgh arsenal, where he could also continue his law study with ...