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H. L. Mencken Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1932. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-42489).


Mencken, H. L. (12 September 1880–29 January 1956), author, editor, and journalist, was born Henry Louis Mencken in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of August Mencken, a cigar manufacturer, and Anna Abhau. Having emigrated from Germany during the mid-nineteenth century, the Menckens and Abhaus had quickly adapted to life in the United States, and they provided a home more Victorian than German-American for their four children. Henry Mencken, the eldest, did attend a private German school for his earliest education, but he completed his formal education at Baltimore Polytechnic, a high school primarily responsible for producing engineers and technicians....


Villard, Oswald Garrison (13 March 1872–01 October 1949), journalist, author, and reformer, was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, the son of Henry Villard, a newspaper correspondent, and Fanny Garrison Villard. When Villard was born, his parents were sojourning abroad for his father’s health. The family soon returned to the United States, lived briefly in Boston, and moved to New York City in 1876. After attending the James Herbert Morse private school in New York, Villard entered Harvard University in 1889, earning his A.B. in 1893. He traveled in Europe for a year with his father, who by this time had bought control of the ...