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Churchill, Winston (10 November 1871–12 March 1947), novelist and politician, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Emma Bell Blaine and Edward S. Churchill. His mother died shortly after his birth. Left in the care of his maternal grandmother until her death two years later, he was a short time thereafter taken in and raised by his mother’s half sister, Louisa Blaine Gazzam, and her husband, James Braiding Gazzam, who lived in genteel poverty. Two manuscripts written later in his life (Jonathan and Gideon mss., Baker Library) demonstrate the influence of Churchill’s upbringing on both his personal life and his novels. The absolute standards that the Gazzams instilled in him left him with lifelong feelings of guilt and inadequacy....

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Jeremiah Clemens. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109966).

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Clemens, Jeremiah (28 December 1814–21 May 1865), politician and novelist, was born in Huntsville, Alabama, the son of James Clemens, a merchant. His mother’s maiden name was Mills, but her first name is unknown. Clemens spent the formative years of his life in the northern Alabama upcountry town of Huntsville with his affluent family. He entered La Grange College in 1830, but in 1831 he moved to the newly opened University of Alabama, graduating in 1833. He also spent a year studying law at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. In 1834 he married Mary Read; they had one child....