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Browne, John Ross (11 February 1821–08 December 1875), writer, world traveler, and government agent, was born in Beggars Bush, near Dublin, Ireland, the son of Thomas Egerton Browne and Elana Buck. His father was a refugee from British rule. As the editor of three publications, Thomas Browne satirized British tithing measures and earned the enmity of the Crown, a fine, and a jail sentence for “seditious libel.”...

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Harrison, Marguerite (23 October 1878–16 July 1967), journalist, spy, world traveler, and writer, was born Marguerite Elton Baker in Baltimore, Maryland, to Elizabeth Elton Livezey and Bernard Baker. Her wealthy family made its fortune in transatlantic shipping, and she spent many summers in Europe, where she enhanced her language skills. Her education was a combination of private tutors and attendance at St. Timothy’s School in Catonsville, Maryland, where she experienced some social awkwardness, but she also learned much about the wider world that would influence the rest of her life. After high school, she attended Radcliffe College for one semester and then in 1901 quickly married Thomas Harrison against her parents’ wishes. In contrast to her family’s high standing and social connections, Thomas came from a family of lesser means and status....

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Johnson, Osa (14 March 1894–07 January 1953), author, lecturer, and film producer, was born Osa Helen Leighty in Chanute, Kansas, the daughter of William Sherman Leighty, a railroad engineer, and Ruby Isabel Holman. In 1910 she left high school to marry Martin Johnson, whom she had met eleven years earlier when he visited Chanute as an eighteen-year-old itinerant photographer. In the meantime he had visited Europe alone and traveled with ...

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Judson, Edward Zane Carroll (20 March 1823–16 July 1886), adventurer and writer, known as “Ned Buntline,” was born in Stamford, New York, the son of Levi Judson, a schoolmaster and, later, an attorney; his mother’s name is unknown. After his father moved the family to Philadelphia, the adolescent Judson rebelled and ran away to sea as a cabin boy. He served for about five years on voyages to various Caribbean and South American ports. Judson’s life and career—one might say lives and careers—epitomize a restlessness that made him thirst for adventures and misadventures in- and out-of-doors, and they show that he had a keen eye for the chance to promote himself as heroic in sensationally fictionalized accounts of his own adventures. The list of epithets he inspires is almost encyclopedic: sailor and U.S. Navy officer; soldier; magazine editor; writer of several hundred “shilling shockers,” dime novels, and other “continuous” stories; temperance lecturer (and drunkard); superpatriot to those of Know Nothing (Buntlinite) persuasion, jingoist bigot to others; expert marksman and angler; bigamist; “discoverer” of ...

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Keyes, Frances Parkinson (21 July 1885–03 July 1970), writer, editor, and traveler, was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, in James Monroe’s house, the daughter of John Henry Wheeler, a scholar and head of the Greek department at the University of Virginia, and Louise Fuller Johnson Underhill. When John Wheeler died in 1887, Louise Wheeler moved to “The Oxbow,” a family home near Newbury, Vermont, where Frances spent the summer months. In the winter months they relocated to Boston so Frances could attend school. Although she did graduate from Miss Winsor’s school in Boston, she described her formal education as “sketchy.”...

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Ruxton, George Augustus Frederick (24 July 1821–29 August 1848), soldier, adventurer, and author, was born in Eynsham Hall, Oxfordshire, England, the son of John Ruxton, an army surgeon, and Anna Maria Hay. On 14 July 1835 Ruxton became a cadet at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. After about two years at the academy, Ruxton was apparently expelled and subsequently traveled to Spain, where he participated for a time in that country’s civil war as a cornet of lancers in the British Auxiliary Legion, a unit serving with forces loyal to Queen Isabella II. For his distinguished actions at the Battle of the Bridge of Belascoain, 29 April–1 May 1839, the queen of Spain awarded Ruxton the Cross of the First Class of the National Military Order of San Fernando....

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Webber, Charles Wilkins (29 May 1819–11 April 1856), author and adventurer, was born in Russellville, Kentucky, the son of Augustine Webber, physician, and Agnes Maria Tannehill. Educated at home, Webber left Kentucky in 1838 after his mother’s death. Traveling south and west, he spent time with John Coffee Hays and the Texas Rangers and met ...

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Wellman, Walter (03 November 1858–31 January 1934), journalist and adventurer, was born in Mentor, Ohio, the son of Alonzo Wellman and Minerva Graves. Educated in local schools in Michigan, Wellman’s formal education ended when he was fourteen years old. He recalled that his most important childhood possession had been a dictionary, which helps to explain his later literary talent....

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White, Stewart Edward (12 March 1873–18 September 1946), traveler and writer of novels and short stories, was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the son of Thomas Stewart White, a millionaire lumberman, and Mary E. Daniell. He did not attend grammar school but was tutored at home and while traveling. Much of White’s education was informal, secured on outings with his father, whom he revered as a model of the energetic outdoorsman, displaying vitality, virility, honesty, and good judgment....