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Bracken, Peg (25 Feb. 1918–20 Oct. 2007), humorist, book author, and food writer, was born Ruth Eleanor Bracken in Filer, Idaho to John Lewis and Ruth McQuesten Bracken. She had one brother, Jack. She grew up in suburban St. Louis, Missouri, and graduated from Antioch College in ...

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Cannon, Poppy (2 Aug. 1905–1 April 1975), cookbook author, journalist, and advertising executive, was born Lillian Gruskin in Cape Town, South Africa, to Robert and Henrietta Gruskin, Jewish immigrants from Lithuania. (Henrietta’s maiden name is unknown.) The family moved to the United States in ...

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Claiborne, Craig (04 September 1920–22 January 2000), food journalist and restaurant critic, was born in Sunflower, Mississippi, the son of Lewis Edmond Claiborne, a cotton grower and local bank officer, and Mary Kathleen Craig Claiborne. His father lost his lands and fortune shortly after Craig's birth and never again held gainful employment. His mother moved the family to the larger town of Indianola and opened a boarding house. She became famous for her high-quality meals, prepared by black cooks using her recipes. Craig grew up savoring outstanding southern cooking. After graduating from Indianola High School, he attended Mississippi State College before moving to the University of Missouri, where he received a B.A. in journalism in 1942....

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E. D. Lloyd-Kimbrel

Fisher, M. F. K. (03 July 1908–22 June 1992), writer, was born Mary Frances Kennedy in Albion, Michigan, the daughter of Rex Brenton Kennedy, a newspaper editor, and Edith Oliver Holbrook, a real estate broker. When Fisher was three years old, the family moved to the Quaker community of Whittier, California, where her father took over the editorship of the local newspaper. The Kennedys were Episcopal and somewhat “outside the faith” in their new home. Rex Kennedy continued as editor of the ...

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Hines, Duncan (26 March 1880–15 March 1959), author, editor, and publisher of travel and restaurant guidebooks for motorists, was born in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the son of Edward L. Hines, a former Confederate army captain, schoolteacher, lawyer, and housebuilder, and Cornelia Duncan. Hines was raised by his grandmother after his mother died, and he attributed his appreciation of the art of dining to his grandmother’s southern cooking. Though he would achieve widespread name recognition as a restaurant critic, his career did not involve food until he reached his mid-fifties. In 1896 he enrolled in Bowling Green Business University but left after two years. For the next forty years he worked in a variety of jobs, mostly public relations; he designed, wrote, and produced corporate brochures, traveling widely from his home in Chicago to visit clients around the country. In 1905 he married Florence Chaffin; they had no children....

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Pennell, Elizabeth Robins (21 Feb. 1855–7 Feb. 1936), author, art critic, and culinary writer, was born Elizabeth Robins in Philadelphia to Edward Robins, a member of the Philadelphia Exchange, and Margaret Miller, who died shortly after giving birth to her. In spite of the family’s devout Episcopalian background, Robins converted to Catholicism and enrolled his daughter in a convent at Conflans, France, and then at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Torresdale, a suburb of Philadelphia, where she was a bright, capable student. At the Convent of the Sacred Heart, she met Agnes Repplier, who would also go on to become a writer, with whom she maintained a lifelong friendship....

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Root, Waverley (15 April 1903–31 October 1982), writer and journalist, was born Waverley Lewis Root in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Francis Solomon Root and Florence Mae Lewis. When Root was seven years old, his family moved to Fall River, Massachusetts, where he attended the public schools. In 1920 he enrolled in Tufts University, where he worked as a campus reporter for Boston newspapers and the Associated Press, wrote for the student paper, and began a major in English. Dissatisfied with the English department, Root changed his major to psychology and talked the college administration into allowing him to teach his own course in American literature. In 1923 he left Tufts without a degree and moved to New York City. For the next few years he wrote theater and music criticism and fiction for a number of publications and a few book reviews for the ...

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Terhune, Mary Virginia Hawes (21 December 1830–03 June 1922), novelist and domestic expert, was born in Dennisville, Amelia County, Virginia. She was the second of seven surviving children of Samuel Pierce Hawes, a merchant originally from Massachusetts, and Judith Anna Smith Hawes, the daughter of well-to-do Virginia planters. Mary Virginia’s father gave his precocious daughter early access to classic literature and provided her with a broad education unusual for a southern girl of the period. She was schooled at home by tutors and governesses and spent two years attending a Presbyterian girls’ seminary in Richmond after the family moved to that city in 1845....

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Alice B. Toklas Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1949. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-42496).

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Toklas, Alice B. (30 April 1877–07 March 1967), writer, author of cookbooks, and Gertrude Stein's companion, writer, author of cookbooks, and Gertrude Stein’s companion, was born Alice Babette Toklas in San Francisco, California, the daughter of Ferdinand Toklas, a store owner, and Emma Levinsky. She lived a middle-class Jewish life of intellectual and artistic pursuits in the homes of her maternal grandparents in San Francisco and her family homes both there and in Seattle, Washington. Her father’s clothing business was prosperous much of the time. She attended private school and spent many years at piano study. At eight she was taken to France and England as well as to Poland to visit her father’s relatives. In 1893 she entered the music conservatory of the University of Washington....

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Vanderbilt, Amy (22 July 1908–22 December 1974), journalist, was born in Staten Island, New York, the daughter of Joseph Mortimer Vanderbilt, an insurance broker, and Mary Estelle Brooks. At the age of sixteen, while still a student at Curtis High School, she became the society writer for the Staten Island ...