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Taylor, Valerie, (7 Sept. 1913–22 Oct. 1997), feminist novelist and radical activist, was born Velma Nacella Young in Aurora, Illinois, to Elsie M. Collins and Marshall J. Young in a family of independent Midwestern farmers and feminists. In addition to economic hardships, undiagnosed polio that resulted in curvature of the spine as well as her extreme nearsightedness were early challenges in her life. They did not keep her from excelling, and she graduated from the local high school in ...

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Wells, Helena (1760–1824), novelist and advocate of improved education for women, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the daughter of Robert Wells and Mary Rowand, who had emigrated from Scotland in 1753. She was educated at home by her father, a successful bookseller and newspaper publisher. According to Helena’s older brother William Charles Wells, by 1775 Robert Wells “had become extremely offensive to the people of Carolina from his constantly maintaining the cause of royalty” in his newspaper. He consequently moved his family to London, his three daughters arriving there in 1777 and 1778. In the 1780s Helena Wells worked as a teacher and possibly a governess; for a few years beginning in 1789 she operated a London boarding school for girls in partnership with an older sister. Forced to abandon teaching because of poor health, she became a writer....