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Cerf, Bennett Alfred (25 May 1898–27 August 1971), publisher and author, was born in New York City, the son of Gustave Cerf, a lithographer, and Frederika Wise, an heiress. Although Frederika had money that accrued from a parental trust fund, Gustave insisted that the family live modestly on his lithographer’s salary. When Cerf was in his teens, his mother died, shortly after giving birth to his sister, who also died. Consequently, sixteen-year-old Cerf became the sole beneficiary of his mother’s sizable trust fund of $125,000....

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Gill, John (17 May 1732–25 August 1785), printer and newspaper publisher, was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, the son of Captain John Gill and Elizabeth Abbot. He served his apprenticeship with Samuel Kneeland, an established Boston printer who also owned the Boston Gazette. Gill married Kneeland’s daughter, Ann Kneeland, in January 1756. It is likely that Gill met ...

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Hayward, Leland (13 September 1902–18 March 1971), theatrical and literary agent and producer, was born in Nebraska City, Nebraska, the son of William Leland, a district attorney, and Sarah Irland Tappan. Hayward attended private schools in New England and was admitted to Princeton University, but he was asked to leave in his freshman year because of poor grades. In 1921 he married Inez “Lola” Gibbs. They divorced the next year but remarried in 1930; they divorced again in 1934....

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Sparks, Jared (10 May 1789–14 March 1866), historian, editor, and clergyman, was born in Willington, Connecticut, the son of Eleanor Orcutt, who nine months later married Joseph Sparks, a farmer. His early life was somewhat unstable. In the mid-1790s he was sent to live with an aunt and uncle to relieve the burdens of the many children in the family, and with his adoptive family, he settled in 1800 in Camden, New York. In 1805 he moved home for a brief time and then went to live with another uncle in Tolland, Connecticut. There he apprenticed as carpenter and taught in local schools. Early on he displayed interests in literary and historical pursuits along with the more common interest in theology. While in Arlington, Vermont, he organized the Arlington Philosophical Society in 1808. He studied at the Philips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, beginning in September 1809, the result of Sparks’s early interests in the ministry and his receipt of a scholarship. There he met and became lifelong friends with another future New England historian, ...

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Thwaites, Reuben Gold (15 May 1853–22 October 1913), historian, editor, and librarian, was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, the son of William George Thwaites and Sarah Bibbs, farmers. Thwaites’s family had emigrated from Yorkshire, England, three years before his birth. He attended school in Dorchester and in 1866 moved with his parents to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where he helped them farm, taught school, and read the equivalent of a program of college courses. He became a reporter on the ...