Bennett Cerf, in full Bennett Alfred Cerf, (born May 25, 1898, New York, New York, U.S.--died August 27, 1971, Mount Kisco, New York), American publisher and editor. With Donald S. Klopfer, in 1925 Cerf acquired the Modern Library imprint, which subsequently became a highly profitable series of reprints of classic books. In 1927 they began publishing books other than Modern Library titles as Random House, of which Cerf served as president (1927-65) and chairman (1965-70). He became known as an opponent of censorship and as the publisher of many eminent authors. An inveterate punster and raconteur,..
Henry Van Dyke, (born November 10, 1852, Germantown, Pennsylvania, U.S.--died April 10, 1933, Princeton, New Jersey), U.S. short-story writer, poet, and essayist popular in the early decades of the 20th century.Educated at Princeton, Van Dyke graduated from its theological seminary in 1877 and became a Presbyterian minister. His early works, "The Story of the Other Wise Man" (1896) and "The First Christmas Tree" (1897), were first read aloud to his congregation in New York as sermons. These quickly brought him recognition. Other stories and anecdotal tales were gathered at regular intervals..
Robinson Jeffers, (born Jan. 10, 1887, Pittsburgh--died Jan. 20, 1962, Carmel, Calif., U.S.), one of the most controversial U.S. poets of the 20th century, for whom all things except his pantheistically conceived God are transient, and human life is viewed as a frantic, often contemptible struggle within a net of passions.Educated in English literature, medicine, and forestry, Jeffers inherited money that allowed him to write his poetry. His third book, Tamar and Other Poems (1924), which brought him immediate fame, revealed the unique style and eccentric ideas developed in such later..
Helen Hunt Jackson, in full Helen Maria Hunt Jackson, nee Fiske, (born Oct. 15, 1830, Amherst, Mass., U.S.--died Aug. 12, 1885, San Francisco, Calif.), American poet and novelist best known for her novel Ramona.She was the daughter of Nathan Fiske, a professor at Amherst (Mass.) College. She lived the life of a young army wife, traveling from post to post, and after the deaths of her first husband, Captain Edward Hunt, and her two sons, in 1863 she turned to writing. She married William Jackson in 1875 and moved to Colorado. A prolific writer, she is remembered primarily for her efforts on behalf..
Michael Bennett, original name Michael Bennett DiFiglia, (born April 8, 1943, Buffalo, N.Y., U.S.--died July 2, 1987, Tucson, Ariz.), American dancer, choreographer, and stage musical director.Bennett studied many styles of dance and began his career as a dancer in productions of West Side Story and Subways Are for Sleeping. His major contribution to the dance scene was as a choreographer-director of Broadway musicals, notably in Promises, Promises (1968), Coco (1969), Company (1970), Follies (1971), A Chorus Line (1975), and Dreamgirls (1981). His beginnings as a dancer were most strongly..
Ray Stannard Baker, pseudonym David Grayson, (born April 17, 1870, Lansing, Mich., U.S.--died July 12, 1946, Amherst, Mass.), American journalist, popular essayist, literary crusader for the League of Nations, and authorized biographer of Woodrow Wilson.A reporter for the Chicago Record (1892-98), Baker became associated with Outlook, McClure's, and the "muckraker" American Magazine. He explored the situation of black Americans in Following the Color Line (1908). As David Grayson he published Adventures in Contentment (1907), the first of his several collections of widely read..
Jean Toomer, (born Dec. 26, 1894, Washington, D.C., U.S.--died March 30, 1967, Doylestown, Pa.), American poet and novelist.After attending the University of Wisconsin and the City College of New York, Toomer taught briefly in the Sparta, Ga., public schools and then turned to lecturing and writing. Cane (1923; reprinted 1967) is an experimental novel which celebrates African Americans through the symbol of the title. It is considered his best work. Toomer also wrote extensively for the Dial and other little magazines and was the author of several experimental plays. In 1926 he attended..
Charles Godfrey Leland, (born Aug. 15, 1824, Philadelphia--died March 20, 1903, Florence), American poet and writer of miscellany, best-known for the "Hans Breitmann Ballads," which reproduce the dialect and humour of the Philadelphia Germans (also called Pennsylvania Dutch).Leland studied for two years in Germany, where he became fascinated with German culture. On his return to America he studied and then practiced law. In 1853 he turned to journalism and worked for a number of years on Barnum's Illustrated News, the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, and Vanity Fair. He also edited Graham's..
James Branch Cabell, (born April 14, 1879, Richmond, Va., U.S.--died May 5, 1958, Richmond), American writer known chiefly for his novel Jurgen (1919).Born into an old and distinguished Virginia family, Cabell began writing fiction shortly after the turn of the century, but acclaim arrived only after a controversy developed over the morality of Jurgen. For a decade or more Cabell was extravagantly praised, especially for the attack in Jurgen on American orthodoxies and institutions, in a story replete with sexual symbolism. In the 1930s his mannered style and his philosophy of life and art..
John Trumbull, (born April 24, 1750, Westbury, Connecticut [U.S.]--died May 11, 1831, Detroit, Michigan Territory), American poet and jurist, known for his political satire, and a leader of the Hartford Wits).While a student at Yale College (now Yale University), Trumbull wrote two kinds of poetry: "correct" but undistinguished elegies of the Neoclassical school, and brilliant, comic verse that he circulated among friends. His burlesque "Epithalamium" (1769) combined wit and scholarship, and his essays in the style of Joseph Addison were published in The Boston Chronicle in 1770. While..
Thomas Bailey Aldrich, (born Nov. 11, 1836, Portsmouth, N.H., U.S.--died March 19, 1907, Boston), poet, short-story writer, and editor whose use of the surprise ending influenced the development of the short story. He drew upon his childhood experiences in New Hampshire in his popular classic The Story of a Bad Boy (1870).Aldrich left school at 13 to work as a merchant's clerk in New York City and soon began to contribute to various newspapers and magazines. After publication of his first book of verse, The Bells (1855), he became junior literary critic on the New York Evening Mirror and later..
Joyce Kilmer, (born Dec. 6, 1886, New Brunswick, N.J., U.S.--died July 30, 1918, near Seringes, Fr.), American poet known chiefly for his 12-line verse entitled "Trees."He was educated at Rutgers and Columbia universities. His first volume of verse, Summer of Love (1911), showed the influence of William Butler Yeats and the Irish poets. After his conversion to Catholicism, Kilmer attempted to model his poetry upon that of Coventry Patmore and the 17th-century Metaphysical poets. His most famous poem, "Trees," appeared in Poetry magazine in 1913. Its immediate and continued popularity..
James Gibbons Huneker, (born January 31, 1860, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.--died February 9, 1921, Brooklyn, New York), American critic of music, art, and literature, a leading exponent of impressionistic criticism. His perceptive comments and brilliant style won him a wide audience in both Europe and the United States.Huneker studied piano in Philadelphia, Paris, and New York, taught piano at the National Conservatory of Music, New York City, 1886-98, and was musical and dramatic critic for the New York Recorder and Morning Advertiser. He joined the New York Sun in 1900, the Times..
Carl Van Vechten, (born June 17, 1880, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, U.S.--died Dec. 21, 1964, New York City), U.S. novelist and music and drama critic, an influential figure in New York literary circles in the 1920s; he was an early enthusiast for the culture of U.S. blacks.Van Vechten was graduated from the University of Chicago in 1903 and worked as assistant music critic for The New York Times (1906-08), then as that paper's Paris correspondent. His elegant, sophisticated novels, Peter Whiffle, His Life and Works (1922), The Tattooed Countess (1924), and Nigger Heaven (1926), were very popular. He..
Bayard Taylor, in full James Bayard Taylor, (born Jan. 11, 1825, Kennett Square, Pa., U.S.--died Dec. 19, 1878, Berlin, Ger.), American author known primarily for his lively travel narratives and for his translation of J.W. von Goethe's Faust.A restless student, Taylor was apprenticed to a printer at age 17. In 1844 his first volume of verse, Ximena, was published. He then arranged with The Saturday Evening Post and the United States Gazette to finance a trip abroad in return for publication rights to his travel letters, which were compiled in the extremely popular Views Afoot (1846). In 1847..
David Herbert Donald, American historian (born Oct. 1, 1920, Goodman, Miss.--died May 17, 2009, Boston, Mass.), was an esteemed historian who twice won the Pulitzer Prize for biography, in 1961 for Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War (1960) and in 1988 for Look Homeward: A Life of Thomas Wolfe (1987). Donald was most widely known, however, for his many works on Abraham Lincoln; his best-selling 1995 book, Lincoln, was regarded as a classic biography of the 16th U.S. president, earning praise for its objectivity. Among Donald's other books on Lincoln are Lincoln's Herndon (1948), Lincoln..
Christopher Morley, in full Christopher Darlington Morley, (born May 5, 1890, Haverford, Pa., U.S.--died March 28, 1957, Roslyn Heights, Long Island, N.Y.), American writer whose versatile works are lighthearted, vigorous displays of the English language.Morley's father was a mathematician and his mother a musician and poet. They were both immigrants from England. The young Morley studied at Haverford College (B.A., 1910) and was a Rhodes scholar at New College, Oxford (1910-13). Over the years he found success in several fields. He gained popularity with his literary columns in the..
Fannie Hurst, (born Oct. 18, 1889, Hamilton, Ohio, U.S.--died Feb. 23, 1968, New York, N.Y.), American novelist, dramatist, and screenwriter.Hurst grew up and attended schools in St. Louis, Missouri. She graduated from Washington University in 1909 and continued her studies at Columbia University in New York City. With the aim of gathering material for her writing, she worked at various times as a waitress, as a nursemaid, and in a sweatshop, and she made a sea voyage to Europe in steerage. Her first book, Just Around the Corner, a collection of short stories, appeared in 1914. She went on to write..
Ernie Pyle, byname of Ernest Taylor Pyle, (born Aug. 3, 1900, near Dana, Ind., U.S.--died April 18, 1945, Ie Shima, Ryukyu Islands), American journalist who was one of the most famous war correspondents of World War II.Pyle studied journalism at Indiana University and left school to become a reporter for a small-town newspaper. Later, after various editorial jobs, he acquired a roving assignment for the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain; his daily experiences furnished him material for a column that eventually appeared in as many as 200 newspapers before World War II. His coverage of the campaigns..
Red Barber, byname of Walter Lanier Barber, (born Feb. 17, 1908, Columbus, Miss., U.S.--died Oct. 22, 1992, Tallahassee, Fla.), American baseball broadcaster, who was the homespun radio and television announcer for the Cincinnati Reds (1934-39), Brooklyn Dodgers (1939-53), and New York Yankees (1954-66) professional baseball teams.Known for his integrity, Barber left the Dodgers after he was urged to make his commentary more supportive of the team, and he was fired by the Yankees after he reported that the last-place team had attracted a mere 413 fans for a September game. He combined technical..
George Jean Nathan, (born February 14, 1882, Fort Wayne, Indiana, U.S.--died April 8, 1958, New York City, New York), American author, editor, and drama critic, who is credited with raising the standards of play producers and playgoers alike.Nathan graduated from Cornell University in 1904 and joined the staff of the New York Herald. Beginning in 1906, he was at various times drama critic for numerous magazines and newspapers, but his name is particularly associated with The Smart Set, of which he was co-editor (1914-23) with H.L. Mencken, and with the American Mercury, which, also with Mencken,..
Katharine Anthony, in full Katharine Susan Anthony, (born November 27, 1877, Roseville, Arkansas, U.S.--died November 20, 1965, New York, New York), American biographer best known for The Lambs (1945), a controversial study of the British writers Charles and Mary Lamb. The greater portion of her work examined the lives of notable American women.A college teacher of geometry, Anthony was deeply interested in psychiatry. Eventually this interest came to shape her approach to biography, and her books centred increasingly on the psychological development and motivation of her subjects...
Clifford Odets, (born July 18, 1906, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.--died August 14, 1963, Hollywood, California), leading dramatist of the theatre of social protest in the United States during the 1930s. His important affiliation with the celebrated Group Theatre contributed to that company's considerable influence on the American stage.From 1923 to 1928 Odets learned his profession as an actor in repertory companies; in 1931 he joined the newly founded Group Theatre as one of its original members. Odets's Waiting for Lefty (1935), his first great success, used both auditorium and..
John Davidson, (born April 11, 1857, Barrhead, Renfrewshire, Scot.--died March 23, 1909, Penzance, Cornwall, Eng.), Scottish poet and playwright whose best work shows him a master of the narrative lyrical ballad.After studying at the University of Edinburgh, Davidson became a teacher, meanwhile writing a number of blank-verse dramas that failed to win recognition. In 1890 he went to London, practiced journalism, and wrote novels and short stories to earn a living, finally establishing himself with Fleet Street Eclogues (1893), Ballads and Songs (1894), and a second series of eclogues..
Donald Barthelme, (born April 7, 1931, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.--died July 23, 1989, Houston, Texas), American short-story writer known for his modernist "collages," which are marked by technical experimentation and a kind of melancholy gaiety.A one-time journalist, Barthelme was managing editor of Location, an art and literature review, and director (1961-62) of the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston. In 1964 he published his first collection of short stories, Come Back, Dr. Caligari. His first novel, Snow White (1967), initially was published in The New Yorker, a magazine..
Ernest Thompson Seton, original name Ernest Evan Thompson, also called Ernest E. Thompson, or Ernest Seton-thompson, (born Aug. 14, 1860, South Shields, Durham, Eng.--died Oct. 23, 1946, Seton Village, Santa Fe, N.M., U.S.), naturalist and writer who was an early practitioner of the modern school of animal-fiction writing.Seton was raised in North America, his family having emigrated to Canada in 1866. Drawn to nature, Seton resisted his family's attempt to make an artist of him. He gained experience as a naturalist by trailing and hunting in the prairie country of Manitoba in the final years..
Colleen Moore, original name Kathleen Morrison, (born Aug. 19, 1900, Port Huron, Mich., U.S.--died Jan. 25, 1988, Paso Robles, Calif.), American actress who epitomized the jazz-age flapper with her bobbed hair and short skirts in such silent motion pictures as Flaming Youth (1923), Naughty But Nice (1927), Synthetic Sin (1929), and Why Be Good? (1929).Moore, who launched her motion picture career in westerns as Tom Mix's leading lady, became the consummate flapper and also possessed a comedic talent that she showcased in such films as Irene (1926) and Orchids and Ermine (1927). Her 100 film..
Bernard Berenson, Bernard originally spelled Bernhard, (born June 26, 1865, Vilnius, Lithuania, Russian Empire--died Oct. 6, 1959, Settignano, Italy), American art critic, especially of Italian Renaissance art.Reared in Boston, Berenson was educated at Harvard University, from which he was graduated in 1887. His first book, The Venetian Painters of the Renaissance (1894), displayed a concise writing style. He was also endowed with a discriminating eye, exceptional memory, perceptive intelligence, and humanistic learning. For a time he was an adviser to the international art dealer..
James Whitcomb Riley, (born Oct. 7, 1849, Greenfield, Ind., U.S.--died July 22, 1916, Indianapolis, Ind.), poet remembered for nostalgic dialect verse and often called "the poet of the common people."Riley's boyhood experience as an itinerant sign painter, entertainer, and assistant to patent-medicine vendors gave him the opportunity to compose songs and dramatic skits, to gain skill as an actor, and to come into intimate touch with the rural populace of Indiana. His reputation was gained first by a series of poems in Hoosier dialect ostensibly written by a farmer, Benj. F. Johnson, of Boone,..
Albert Barnes, (born Dec. 1, 1798, Rome, N.Y., U.S.--died Dec. 24, 1870, Philadelphia), U.S. Presbyterian clergyman and writer.Of Methodist parentage, he intended to study law but, while at Hamilton College, decided to enter the Presbyterian ministry. He attended Princeton Theological Seminary and became a pastor in Morristown, N.J. In 1830 he moved to the First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. At that time he became involved in the controversy between Old School Presbyterians, who held to traditional doctrine, and those of the New School, who wished to relax it. For a year he was suspended..
Thomas Nelson Page, (born April 23, 1853, Oakland plantation, near Beaver Dam, Va., U.S.--died Nov. 1, 1922, Oakland, Calif.), American author whose work fostered romantic legends of Southern plantation life.Page attended Washington College (now Washington and Lee University), taught for a year, and in 1874 graduated in law from the University of Virginia. He practiced until 1893, when he moved to Washington, D.C., and devoted himself to writing and lecturing. He first won notice with the story "Marse Chan" in the Century Illustrated Magazine. This and similar stories were collected in..
Edwin Markham, original name Charles Edward Anson Markham, (born April 23, 1852, Oregon City, Ore., U.S.--died March 7, 1940, New York City), American poet and lecturer, best-known for his poem of social protest, "The Man with the Hoe."The youngest son of pioneer parents, Markham grew up on an isolated valley ranch in the Suisun hills in central California. After graduation from college, he became first a teacher and then a school administrator. In 1899 he gained national fame with the publication in the San Francisco Examiner of "The Man with the Hoe." Inspired by Jean-Francois Millet's painting,..
Arna Bontemps, in full Arna Wendell Bontemps, (born October 13, 1902, Alexandria, Louisiana, U.S.--died June 4, 1973, Nashville, Tennessee), American writer who depicted the lives and struggles of black Americans.After graduating from Pacific Union College, Angwin, California, in 1923, Bontemps taught in New York and elsewhere. His poetry began to appear in the influential black magazines Opportunity and Crisis in the mid-1920s. His first novel, God Sends Sunday (1931), about a jockey who was good with horses but inadequate with people, is considered the final work of the Harlem Renaissance...
Moss Hart, (born Oct. 24, 1904, New York City--died Dec. 20, 1961, Palm Springs, Calif., U.S.), one of the most successful U.S. playwrights of the 20th century.At 17 Hart obtained a job as office boy for the theatrical producer Augustus Pitou. He wrote his first play at 18, but it was a flop. He then worked as director of amateur theatre groups, spending his summers as entertainment director of vacation resorts in the Catskills, known in the theatrical world as "the borscht circuit." In 1929 he wrote the first draft of Once in a Lifetime, a satire on Hollywood that became a hit the following year, after..
James Hall, (born August 19, 1793, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.--died July 5, 1868, Cincinnati, Ohio), American author who was one of the earliest to write about the American frontier.Hall was a soldier in the War of 1812, a lawyer and circuit judge, a newspaper and magazine editor, state treasurer of Illinois (1827-31), a banker in Cincinnati, Ohio, and a writer of history and fiction. In 1828 he compiled the first western literary annual, the Western Souvenir, and he edited the Illinois Monthly Magazine (1830-32), which he continued at Cincinnati until 1836 as the Western Monthly Magazine...
George Ade, (born Feb. 9, 1866, Kentland, Ind., U.S.--died May 16, 1944, Brook, Ind.), American playwright and humorist whose Fables in Slang summarized the kind of wisdom accumulated by the country boy in the city.Graduated from Purdue University, Ade was on the staff of the Chicago Record newspaper from 1890 to 1900. The characters he introduced in his widely acclaimed editorial-page column, "Stories of the Streets and of the Town," became the subjects of his early books, Artie (1896), Pink Marsh (1897), and Doc Horne (1899). His greatest recognition came with Fables in Slang (1899), a national..
Gloria Naylor, (born January 25, 1950, New York, New York, U.S.--died September 28, 2016, Christiansted, U.S. Virgin Islands), American novelist known for her sensitive, nuanced portrayals of African American women, especially in her first and most-famous novel, The Women of Brewster Place (1982).Naylor spent seven years as a Jehovah's Witness missionary before studying English at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York (B.A., 1981) and African American studies at Yale University (M.A., 1983). In 1982 she published The Women of Brewster Place (1982), which won her instant..
Eugene Field, (born September 2, 1850, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.--died November 4, 1895, Chicago, Illinois), American poet and journalist, best known, to his disgust, as the "poet of childhood."Field attended several colleges but took no degree; at the University of Missouri he was known less as a student than as a prankster. After his marriage in 1873, Field did editorial work for a variety of newspapers, including the Denver Tribune. From his Tribune column, "Odds and Ends," he gathered comic paragraphs to form his first book, The Tribune Primer (1882), journalistic joking in the tradition..
Henry Timrod, (born December 8, 1828, Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.--died October 6, 1867, Columbia, South Carolina.), American poet who was called "the laureate of the Confederacy."Timrod was the son of a bookbinder. He attended Franklin College (later the University of Georgia), Athens, for two years and for a short period of time read law in Charleston. For a number of years he worked as a tutor, and in 1860 a collection of his poems was published. In his best-known essay, "Literature in the South" (1859), he criticized the lack of respect accorded Southern writers in both the North and..
Cornelia Otis Skinner, (born May 30, 1901, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.--died July 9, 1979, New York, New York), American actress and author who, with satirical wit, wrote light verse, monologues, anecdotes, sketches, and monodramas in which she displayed her versatile and distinctive acting skills.Skinner made her first professional stage appearance with her father, the tragedian Otis Skinner, in Blood and Sand (1921) and collaborated with him in writing her first play, Captain Fury (1925). During the 1930s she wrote and staged her own monodramas, including The Loves of Charles II, The Empress..
William Safire, (born December 17, 1929, New York, New York, U.S.--died September 27, 2009, Rockville, Maryland), American journalist who was known for his fiercely opinionated conservative columns (1973-2005) for The New York Times as well as his witty and meticulous columns (1979-2009) in The New York Times Magazine that traced the origins and meanings of popular phrases.Safire attended Syracuse University but left after his sophomore year. He worked as a newspaper reporter and at radio and television stations before entering the public-relations field. In 1961 he founded his own PR..
Richard Harding Davis, (born April 18, 1864, Philadelphia, Pa., U.S.--died April 11, 1916, Mount Kisco, N.Y., U.S.), U.S. author of romantic novels and short stories and the best known reporter of his generation.Davis studied at Lehigh and Johns Hopkins universities and in 1886 became a reporter on the Philadelphia Record. He then worked on various newspapers in Philadelphia and New York, wrote short stories, and in 1890 became managing editor of Harper's Weekly. On Harper's assignments he toured various parts of the globe, recording his impressions of the American West, Europe, and South..
Max Lerner, in full Maxwell Alan Lerner, original name Mikhail Lerner, (born Dec. 20, 1902, Minsk, Russia--died June 5, 1992, New York, N.Y., U.S.), American educator, author, and syndicated columnist who was an influential spokesman for liberal political and economic views.Lerner immigrated to the United States with his parents in 1907. He graduated from Yale University (B.A., 1923), where he later studied law, before attending Washington University, St. Louis, Mo. (M.A., 1925), and the Robert Brookings Graduate School of Economics and Government, Washington, D.C. (Ph.D., 1927)...
Bruce Sterling, (born April 14, 1954, Brownsville, Texas, U.S.), American author of science fiction who in the mid-1980s emerged as a proponent of the subgenre known as cyberpunk, notably as the editor of Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology (1986).In 1976 Sterling graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and published his first story, "Man-Made Self," in the anthology Lone Star Universe. His first novel, Involution Ocean (1977), describes a dystopian planet where inhabitants escape their confusing lives through drug abuse. The characters in The Artificial Kid (1980) struggle..
Jim Carroll, (James Dennis Carroll), American poet and rock musician (born Aug. 1, 1949, New York, N.Y.--died Sept. 11, 2009, New York City), wrote several acclaimed collections of poems but was best known for The Basketball Diaries (1978; filmed 1995), an unvarnished account of his drug-addled adolescence in 1960s New York City. Carroll began his journal at the age of 12 as a budding basketball star (he eventually received a basketball scholarship to Trinity, a private high school in Manhattan) but not long after was vividly chronicling his descent into heroin addiction and prostitution...
Jessica Mitford, in full Jessica Lucy Mitford, (born Sept. 11, 1917, Gloucestershire, England--died July 23, 1996, Oakland, Calif., U.S.), English-born writer and journalist noted for her witty and irreverent investigations of various aspects of American society.The fifth daughter of the 2nd Baron Redesdale, Mitford grew up in England with her brother and five sisters, one of whom was the novelist Nancy Mitford. She moved to the United States in 1939, became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1944, and began to write in the late 1950s. Her first published book, the autobiography Hons and Rebels..
George Horace Lorimer, (born October 6, 1867, Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.--died October 22, 1937, Wyncote, Pennsylvania), American editor of The Saturday Evening Post, during whose long tenure (May 17, 1899-January 1, 1937) the magazine attained its greatest success, partly because of his astute judgment of popular American tastes in literature.After working for Philip D. Armour's meatpacking company in Chicago (1887-95) and failing in his own wholesale grocery business, Lorimer went to Boston and became a newspaper reporter. When Cyrus H.K. Curtis bought The Saturday Evening Post..
Arthur Laurents, (Arthur Levine), American playwright, director, and screenwriter (born July 14, 1917, Brooklyn, N.Y.--died May 5, 2011, New York, N.Y.), wrote the books for several successful Broadway productions, most notably the hit musicals West Side Story (1957; filmed 1961) and Gypsy (1959; filmed 1962), during a career that spanned some 60 years. After graduating (1937) from Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., with an English degree, Laurents wrote scripts for such radio programs as The Thin Man. He was drafted (1941) into the U.S. Army and wrote for military training films and radio..
Westbrook Pegler, in full James Westbrook Pegler, (born August 2, 1894, Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.--died June 24, 1969, Tucson, Arizona), American columnist whose continual crusades, combined with an acerbic, original style, attracted nationwide attention.Pegler was the son of a star reporter from Minneapolis and Chicago, and he was still attending a Chicago high school when he started working for United Press (UP) in various bureaus around the country. Six years later, in 1916, Pegler was assigned to the agency's London bureau. After serving in the U.S. Navy in 1918-19, he wrote and..
John Bigelow, (born Nov. 25, 1817, Bristol, N.Y., U.S.--died Dec. 19, 1911, New York, N.Y.), American author, journalist, and diplomat who was the discoverer and first editor of Benjamin Franklin's long-lost Autobiography. As U.S. consul in Paris during the American Civil War, he also prevented the delivery of warships constructed in France for the Confederacy.Called to the New York bar in 1838, Bigelow was managing editor and, with the poet William Cullen Bryant, part owner of the New York Evening Post (1849-61). In the election campaign of 1856 he was a principal adviser of the Republican..
Elbert Hubbard, in full Elbert Green Hubbard, (born June 19, 1856, Bloomington, Ill., U.S.--died May 7, 1915, at sea off Ireland), American editor, publisher, and author of the moralistic essay "A Message to Garcia."A freelance newspaperman and head of sales and advertising for a manufacturing company, Hubbard retired in 1892 and founded his Roycroft Press in 1893 at East Aurora, N.Y., on the model of William Morris' communal Kelmscott Press, which he had visited in England. Beginning in 1895 he issued monthly the famous "Little Journey" booklets. These were pleasant biographical essays..
Alexander Woollcott, in full Alexander Humphreys Woollcott, (born January 19, 1887, Phalanx, New Jersey, U.S.--died January 23, 1943, New York City, New York), American author, critic, and actor known for his acerbic wit. A large, portly man, he was the self-appointed leader of the Algonquin Round Table, an informal luncheon club at New York City's Algonquin Hotel in the 1920s and '30s.After graduating from Hamilton College, Clinton, New York, he joined the staff of The New York Times in 1909 as a cub reporter and succeeded to the post of drama critic in 1914. After a brief stint (1917-18) in the..
Horton Foote, in full Albert Horton Foote, (born March 14, 1916, Wharton, Texas, U.S.--died March 4, 2009, Hartford, Connecticut), American playwright and screenwriter who evoked American life in beautifully observed minimal stories and was perhaps best known for his adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird.Foote studied acting at the Pasadena Playhouse in California and in New York City. His first two plays, Wharton Dance (1940) and Texas Town (1941), were staged by the American Actors' Company in New York City. Foote's best-known original work, The Trip to Bountiful, was written as a television..
John Gregory Dunne, (born May 25, 1932, Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.--died December 30, 2003, New York, New York), American journalist, novelist, and screenwriter who is noted for his works of social satire, personal analysis, and Irish American life.After graduating from Princeton University (A.B., 1954), Dunne briefly served in the military and became a staff writer for Time magazine in New York City. He married novelist Joan Didion in 1964 and moved to California, where he contributed to numerous magazines--including a joint column with his wife in the Saturday Evening Post (1967-69)--and..
William Wells Brown, (born 1814?, near Lexington, Ky., U.S.--died Nov. 6, 1884, Chelsea, Mass.), American writer who is considered to be the first African-American to publish a novel. He was also the first to have a play and a travel book published.Brown was born to a black slave mother and a white slaveholding father. He grew up near St. Louis, Mo., where he served various masters, including the abolitionist Elijah P. Lovejoy. Brown escaped in 1834 and adopted the name of a Quaker, Wells Brown, who aided him when he was a runaway. He settled in the Great Lakes region before moving to the Boston area...
Edward Bellamy, (born March 26, 1850, Chicopee Falls, Mass., U.S.--died May 22, 1898, Chicopee Falls), American writer known chiefly for his utopian novel Looking Backward, 2000-1887.The son of a Baptist minister, Bellamy first realized the plight of the urban poor at 18 while studying for a year in Germany. He studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1871, but soon turned to journalism, first as an associate editor for the Springfield (Massachusetts) Union and then as an editorial writer for the New York Evening Post. Bellamy's early essays and stories sometimes indirectly criticized conventional..
Elmer Rice, original name Elmer Reizenstein, (born Sept. 28, 1892, New York City--died May 8, 1967, Southampton, Hampshire, Eng.), American playwright, director, and novelist noted for his innovative and polemical plays.Rice graduated from the New York Law School in 1912 but soon turned to writing plays. His first work, the melodramatic On Trial (1914), was the first play to employ on stage the motion-picture technique of flashbacks, in this case to present the recollections of witnesses at a trial. In The Adding Machine (1923) Rice adapted techniques from German Expressionist theatre..
Bruce Catton, in full Charles Bruce Catton, (born October 9, 1899, Petoskey, Michigan, U.S.--died August 28, 1978, Frankfort, Michigan), American journalist and historian noted for his books on the American Civil War.As a child living in a small town in Michigan, Catton was stimulated by the reminiscences of the Civil War that he heard from local veterans. His education at Oberlin College, Ohio, was interrupted by two years of naval service in World War I and was subsequently abandoned for a career in journalism. While he was employed as a reporter for the Boston American, the Cleveland News,..
Dorothy Canfield Fisher, original name Dorothea Frances Canfield, pen name Dorothy Canfield, (born February 17, 1879, Lawrence, Kansas, U.S.--died November 9, 1958, Arlington, Vermont), prolific American author of novels, short stories, children's books, educational works, and memoirs.Canfield received a Ph.D. in Romance languages from Columbia University in 1904, a rare accomplishment for a woman of her generation. In 1907 she married John Redwood Fisher and, under the pen name Dorothy Canfield, published her first novel, Gunhild. In the same year, she inherited her great-grandfather's..
Booth Tarkington, (born July 29, 1869, Indianapolis, Ind., U.S.--died May 19, 1946, Indianapolis), American novelist and dramatist, best-known for his satirical and sometimes romanticized pictures of American Midwesterners.Tarkington studied at Purdue and Princeton universities but took no degree. A versatile and prolific writer, he won early recognition with the melodramatic novel The Gentleman from Indiana (1899), reflecting his disillusionment with the corruption in the lawmaking process he was to observe firsthand as a member of the Indiana legislature (1902-03). His immensely..
Dashiell Hammett, in full Samuel Dashiell Hammett, (born May 27, 1894, St. Mary's County, Md., U.S.--died Jan. 10, 1961, New York City), American writer who created the hard-boiled school of detective fiction. (See detective story; hard-boiled fiction).Hammett left school at 13 and worked at a variety of low-paying jobs before working eight years as a detective for the Pinkerton agency. He served in World War I, contracted tuberculosis, and spent the immediate postwar years in army hospitals. He began to publish short stories and novelettes in pulp magazines and wrote two novels--Red Harvest..
Andre Norton, original name Alice Mary Norton, (born February 17, 1912, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.--died March 17, 2005, Murfreesboro, Tennessee), prolific best-selling American author of science-fiction and fantasy adventure novels for both juveniles and adults.Norton entered Western Reserve University (now Case Western Reserve University) in 1930 but two years later began an 18-year career as a children's librarian at the Cleveland (Ohio) Public Library. She legally changed her name to Andre Norton in 1934, when her historical fantasy The Prince Commands was published; it was the first..
Taylor Caldwell, in full Janet Taylor Caldwell, (born September 7, 1900, Manchester, England--died August 30, 1985, Greenwich, Connecticut, U.S.), highly popular American novelist known for her family sagas and historical fiction.Caldwell moved to the United States with her family in 1907 and settled in Buffalo, New York. Interested in writing from an early age, she worked from 1923 to 1931 in various capacities in Buffalo offices of the U.S. Labor Department and the Immigration and Naturalization Service while working her way through the University of Buffalo (now the State University..
Samuel Eliot Morison, (born July 9, 1887, Boston, Mass., U.S.--died May 15, 1976, Boston), American biographer and historian who re-created in vivid prose notable maritime stories of modern history. Combining a gift for narrative with meticulous scholarship, he led the reader back into history to relive the adventures of such figures as Ferdinand Magellan, Christopher Columbus, and Sir Francis Drake. He also chronicled the exploits of the U.S. Navy during World War II.Morison was educated at St. Paul's School in Concord, N.H., and at Harvard University and, after further study abroad,..
Paddy Chayefsky, original name Sidney Chayefsky, (born Jan. 29, 1923, New York, N.Y., U.S.--died Aug. 1, 1981, New York City), American playwright and screenwriter whose work was part of the flowering of television drama in the 1950s.Chayefsky graduated from City College of New York in 1943 and served during World War II in the U.S. Army. On his return to New York City he worked as a printer's apprentice, then began writing radio adaptations for "Theatre Guild of the Air" (1951-52) and mystery dramas for television series.His first full-length television play was Holiday Song (1952). His greatest..
Maxwell Anderson, (born Dec. 15, 1888, Atlantic, Pa., U.S.--died Feb. 28, 1959, Stamford, Conn.), prolific playwright noted for his efforts to make verse tragedy a popular form.Anderson was educated at the University of North Dakota and Stanford University. He collaborated with Laurence Stallings in the World War I comedy What Price Glory? (1924), his first hit, a realistically ribald and profane view of World War I. Saturday's Children (1927), about the marital problems of a young couple, was also very successful. Anderson's prestige was increased by two ambitious historical dramas in..
Raymond Chandler, in full Raymond Thornton Chandler, (born July 23, 1888, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.--died March 26, 1959, La Jolla, California), American author of detective fiction, the creator of the private detective Philip Marlowe, whom he characterized as a poor but honest upholder of ideals in an opportunistic and sometimes brutal society in Los Angeles.From 1896 to 1912 Chandler lived in England with his mother, a British subject of Irish birth. Although he was an American citizen and a resident of California when World War I began in 1914, he served in the Canadian army and then in the..
Alan Lomax, (born January 15, 1915, Austin, Texas, U.S.--died July 19, 2002, Sarasota, Florida), American ethnomusicologist, one of the most dedicated and knowledgeable folk-music scholars of the 20th century.After study at Harvard University, the University of Texas at Austin (B.A., 1936), and Columbia University, Lomax toured the prisons of the American Deep South with his father, John Lomax, also a noted student of folk song, recording folk-song performances for the Archive of American Song of the Library of Congress. During this tour they discovered the great blues singer Huddie..
Still in doubt about getting professional help? Give it a go!
Describe what you need done, and hire a suitable tutor for qualified help
Secure and confidential - your email will be used only for logging in; we'll never show it to anyone.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, (born Aug. 29, 1809, Cambridge, Mass., U.S.--died Oct. 7, 1894, Cambridge), American physician, poet, and humorist notable for his medical research and teaching, and as the author of the "Breakfast-Table" series of essays.Holmes read law at Harvard University before deciding on a medical career; and, following studies at Harvard and in Paris, he received his degree from Harvard in 1836. He practiced medicine for 10 years, taught anatomy for two years at Dartmouth College (Hanover, N.H.), and in 1847 became professor of anatomy and physiology at Harvard. He was later..
Anna Katharine Green, married name Anna Green Rohlfs, (born Nov. 11, 1846, Brooklyn, N.Y., U.S.--died April 11, 1935, Buffalo, N.Y.), American writer of detective fiction who helped to make the genre popular in America by creating well-constructed plots based on a good knowledge of criminal law.Green graduated from Ripley Female College (now Green Mountain College) in Poultney, Vermont, in 1866. Her early poetic ambitions were bolstered by a meeting with Ralph Waldo Emerson. Her first book, however, was something entirely different: a detective tale entitled The Leavenworth Case (1878),..
Ossie Davis, byname of Raiford Chatman Davis, (born December 18, 1917, Cogdell, Georgia, U.S.--died February 4, 2005, Miami Beach, Florida), American writer, actor, director, and social activist who was known for his contributions to African American theatre and film and for his passionate support of civil rights and humanitarian causes. He was also noted for his artistic partnership with his wife, Ruby Dee, which was considered one of the theatre and film world's most distinguished.After attending Howard University in Washington, D.C., Davis moved to New York City to pursue a career as..
John Hope Franklin, (born Jan. 2, 1915, Rentiesville, Okla., U.S.--died March 25, 2009, Durham, N.C.), American historian and educator noted for his scholarly reappraisal of the American Civil War era and the importance of the black struggle in shaping modern American identity. He also helped fashion the legal brief that led to the historic Supreme Court decision outlawing public school segregation, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954) and was instrumental in the development of African-American Studies programs at colleges and universities.Franklin was the son of a lawyer. After..
John Burroughs, (born April 3, 1837, near Roxbury, N.Y., U.S.--died March 29, 1921, en route from California to New York), American essayist and naturalist who lived and wrote after the manner of Henry David Thoreau, studying and celebrating nature.In his earlier years Burroughs worked as a teacher and a farmer and for nine years as a clerk in the Treasury Department, Washington, D.C. In 1867 he paid tribute to his friend Walt Whitman in the book Notes on Walt Whitman as Poet and Person. In 1871 Wake-Robin, the first of his books on birds, flowers, and rural scenes, was published. Two years later..
Robert Pinsky, (born Oct. 20, 1940, Long Branch, N.J., U.S.), American poet and critic whose poems searched for the significance underlying everyday acts. He was the first poet laureate consultant in poetry to be appointed for three consecutive one-year terms, beginning in 1997.A graduate of Rutgers (B.A., 1962) and Stanford (Ph.D., 1966) universities, Pinsky taught at Wellesley College, the University of California at Berkeley, and Boston University.The title poem of Pinsky's first collection, Sadness and Happiness (1975), comments on the poet's own life. His long poem An Explanation..
Phillips Brooks, (born Dec. 13, 1835, Boston, Mass., U.S.--died Jan. 23, 1893, Boston), American Episcopal clergyman renowned as a preacher.A member of a wealthy old Brahmin family of New England, Brooks attended Harvard University (1851-55) and taught briefly at the Boston Latin School before attending the Episcopal Seminary at Alexandria, Va., being ordained there on July 1, 1859. The following month he began his ministry at the Church of the Advent in Philadelphia, where his impressive personality and eloquence won crowds of admirers. Three years later he became rector of Holy Trinity..
William Allen White, (born Feb. 10, 1868, Emporia, Kan., U.S.--died Jan. 29, 1944, Emporia), American journalist known as the "Sage of Emporia," whose mixture of tolerance, optimism, liberal Republicanism, and provincialism made him the epitome of the thoughtful small-town American. His editorial writing made his own small-town newspaper, the Emporia Gazette, internationally known, and strongly affected at least one U.S. presidential election.White left the University of Kansas, Lawrence, in 1890 to become business manager of the El Dorado (Kan.) Republican. After writing editorials..
George William Curtis, (born Feb. 24, 1824, Providence, R.I., U.S.--died Aug. 31, 1892, Staten Island, N.Y.), U.S. author, editor, and leader in civil service reform.Early in life Curtis spent two years at the Brook Farm community and school, subsequently remaining near Concord, Mass., for a time, to continue his association with Emerson. Later he travelled in Europe, Egypt, and Palestine. In 1850 he returned and joined the New York Tribune, to which he had sent some letters from Europe. As a result of his travels, he became a popular lecturer and published Nile Notes of a Howadji (1851) and The..
Joel Chandler Harris, (born Dec. 9, 1848, Eatonton, Ga., U.S.--died July 3, 1908, Atlanta), American author, creator of the folk character Uncle Remus.As apprentice on a weekly paper, The Countryman, he became familiar with the lore and dialects of the plantation slave. He established a reputation as a brilliant humorist and writer of dialect while employed on newspapers at Macon, Ga., New Orleans, Forsyth and Savannah, Ga., and, after 1876, on the staff of the Atlanta Constitution for 24 years. In 1879 "Tar-Baby," a story probably inspired by his reading of William Owens' work on black folklore,..
Edward Bok, in full Edward William Bok, (born October 9, 1863, Den Helder, Netherlands--died January 9, 1930, Lake Wales, Florida, U.S.), innovative American editor in the field of periodical journalism for women; during his 30-year stewardship of the Ladies' Home Journal (1889-1919), he effected important reforms and helped shape contemporary American culture.Growing up in a poor immigrant family in Brooklyn, New York, Bok worked as an office boy for the Western Union Telegraph Company, attended night school, entered book publishing, and (at the age of 24) became advertising manager..
Franklin Pierce Adams, byname F.p.a., (born Nov. 15, 1881, Chicago--died March 23, 1960, New York City), U.S. newspaper columnist, translator, poet, and radio personality whose humorous syndicated column "The Conning Tower" earned him the reputation of godfather of the contemporary newspaper column. He wrote primarily under his initials, F.P.A.Adams' newspaper career began in 1903, with the Chicago Journal. The next year he went to New York, where he wrote for several newspapers. From 1913 to 1937 his column, "The Conning Tower," appeared in the Herald Tribune and several other New York..
Terrence McNally, (born November 3, 1939, St. Petersburg, Florida, U.S.), American dramatist whose plays explore human relationships--frequently those of gay men--and are typically characterized by dark humour. He also wrote books for musicals.As a young man, McNally worked as a newspaper reporter, as a tutor for the children of the American novelist John Steinbeck, and as a stage manager at The Actors Studio. His early plays included Bad Habits (produced 1971), The Ritz (originally produced as The Tubs, 1973; film 1976), and Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune (produced 1987; film..
Roger Tory Peterson, (born Aug. 28, 1908, Jamestown, N.Y., U.S.--died July 28, 1996, Old Lyme, Conn.), American ornithologist, author, conservationist, and wildlife artist whose field books on birds, beginning with A Field Guide to the Birds (1934; 4th ed. 1980), did much in the United States and Europe to stimulate public interest in bird study.The "Peterson Field Guide Series" includes Peterson's own books on birds of western North America (1954), eastern and central North America (1980), Britain and Europe (with British ornithologists Guy Mountfort and P.A.D. Hollum; 1954), and Mexico..
Patricia Highsmith, original name Mary Patricia Plangman, (born January 19, 1921, Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.--died February 4, 1995, Locarno, Switzerland), American novelist and short-story writer who is best known for psychological thrillers, in which she delved into the nature of guilt, innocence, good, and evil.Highsmith, who took her stepfather's name, graduated from Barnard College, New York City, in 1942 and traveled to Europe in 1949, eventually settling there. In 1950 she published Strangers on a Train, an intriguing story of two men, one ostensibly good and the other ostensibly..
Alex Haley, in full Alexander Palmer Haley, (born August 11, 1921, Ithaca, New York, U.S.--died February 10, 1992, Seattle, Washington), American writer whose works of historical fiction and reportage depicted the struggles of African Americans.Although his parents were teachers, Haley was an indifferent student. He began writing to avoid boredom during voyages while serving in the U.S. Coast Guard (1939-59). His first major work, The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965), was an authoritative and widely read narrative based on Haley's interviews with the Black Muslim spokesman. The work..
Stephen Vincent Benet, (born July 22, 1898, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, U.S.--died March 13, 1943, New York, New York), American poet, novelist, and writer of short stories, best known for John Brown's Body, a long narrative poem on the American Civil War.Born into a military family with literary inclinations, Benet was reared on army posts. His father read poetry aloud to Stephen, an older brother, William Rose, and a sister, Laura, all of whom became writers. Stephen published his first book at age 17. Civilian service during World War I interrupted his education at Yale University. He received..
Dorothy Thompson, (born July 9, 1893, Lancaster, N.Y., U.S.--died Jan. 30, 1961, Lisbon, Port.), American newspaperwoman and writer, one of the most famous journalists of the 20th century.The daughter of a Methodist minister, Thompson attended the Lewis Institute in Chicago and Syracuse University in New York (A.B., 1914), where she became ardently committed to woman suffrage. After World War I she went to Europe as a freelance correspondent and became famous for an exclusive interview with Empress Zita of Austria after Emperor Charles's unsuccessful attempt in 1921 to regain his throne...
Lorraine Hansberry, (born May 19, 1930, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.--died January 12, 1965, New York, New York), American playwright whose A Raisin in the Sun (1959) was the first drama by an African American woman to be produced on Broadway.Hansberry was interested in writing from an early age and while in high school was drawn especially to the theatre. She attended the University of Wisconsin in 1948-50 and then briefly the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Roosevelt University (Chicago). After moving to New York City, she held various minor jobs and studied at the New School for Social..
June Jordan, married name June Meyer, (born July 9, 1936, New York, New York, U.S.--died June 14, 2002, Berkeley, California), African American author who investigated both social and personal concerns through poetry, essays, and drama.Jordan grew up in the New York City borough of Brooklyn and attended Barnard College (1953-55, 1956-57) and the University of Chicago (1955-56). Beginning in 1967, she taught English and literature; she later taught African American studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She fought for the inclusion of black studies and Third World studies..
Alice Morse Earle, nee Mary Alice Morse, (born April 27, 1851, Worcester, Mass., U.S.--died Feb. 16, 1911, Hempstead, Long Island, N.Y.), American writer and antiquarian whose work centred on the manners, customs, and handicrafts of various periods of American history.
Alice Morse married Henry Earle of New York in 1874. Her writing career began in 1890 when, at the suggestion of her father, she wrote an article on old Sabbath customs at her forebears' church in Chester, Vermont, for the Youth's Companion. The next year an expanded version of the article was published by The Atlantic..
Ken Kesey, in full Ken Elton Kesey, (born September 17, 1935, La Junta, Colorado, U.S.--died November 10, 2001, Eugene, Oregon), American writer who was a hero of the countercultural revolution and the hippie movement of the 1960s.Kesey was educated at the University of Oregon and Stanford University. At a Veterans Administration hospital in Menlo Park, California, he was a paid volunteer experimental subject, taking mind-altering drugs and reporting on their effects. This experience and his work as an aide at the hospital served as background for his best-known novel, One Flew Over the..
Countee Cullen, in full Countee Porter Cullen, (born May 30, 1903, Louisville, Kentucky?, U.S.--died January 9, 1946, New York, New York), American poet, one of the finest of the Harlem Renaissance.Reared by a woman who was probably his paternal grandmother, Countee at age 15 was unofficially adopted by the Reverend F.A. Cullen, minister of Salem M.E. Church, one of Harlem's largest congregations. He won a citywide poetry contest as a schoolboy and saw his winning stanzas widely reprinted. At New York University (B.A., 1925) he won the Witter Bynner Poetry Prize and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa...
Lowell Thomas, in full Lowell Jackson Thomas, (born April 6, 1892, Woodington, Ohio, U.S.--died August 29, 1981, Pawling, New York), preeminent American radio commentator and an explorer, lecturer, author, and journalist. He is especially remembered for his association with T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia).Thomas attended Valparaiso University (B.Sc., 1911), the University of Denver (B.A., M.A., 1912), and Princeton University (M.A., 1916). During his early 20s he worked as a war correspondent in Europe and the Middle East, eventually following Lawrence into the Arabian Desert..
Terry McMillan, (born October 18, 1951, Port Huron, Michigan, U.S.), American novelist whose work often portrays feisty, independent black women and their attempts to find fulfilling relationships with black men.The daughter of working-class parents, McMillan grew up near Detroit. She was a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley (B.S., 1979) and Columbia University (M.F.A., 1979). She taught at the universities of Wyoming (1987-90) and Arizona (1990-92).In McMillan's first novel, Mama (1987), a black woman manages to raise five children alone after she forces her drunken..
Vachel Lindsay, in full Nicholas Vachel Lindsay, (born Nov. 10, 1879, Springfield, Ill., U.S.--died Dec. 5, 1931, Springfield), American poet who--in an attempt to revive poetry as an oral art form of the common people--wrote and read to audiences compositions with powerful rhythms that had an immediate appeal.After three years at Hiram College, Hiram, Ohio, Lindsay left in 1900 to study art in Chicago and New York City. He supported himself in part by lecturing for the YMCA and the Anti-Saloon League. Having begun to write poetry, he wandered for several summers throughout the country reciting..
Sandra Cisneros, (born December 20, 1954, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.), American short-story writer and poet best known for her groundbreaking evocation of Mexican American life in Chicago.After graduating from Chicago's Loyola University (B.A., 1976), Cisneros attended the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop (M.F.A., 1978). There she developed what was to be the theme of most of her writing, her unique experiences as a Hispanic woman in a largely alien culture.Cisneros's first book was Bad Boys (1980), a volume of poetry. She gained international attention with her first book of fiction,..
Virgil Thomson, (born Nov. 25, 1896, Kansas City, Mo., U.S.--died Sept. 30, 1989, New York, N.Y.), American composer, conductor, and music critic whose forward-looking ideas stimulated new lines of thought among contemporary musicians.Thomson studied at Harvard University and later in Paris with Nadia Boulanger, a noted teacher of musical composition. There he was influenced by early 20th-century French composers, especially the group known as Les Six, whose most prominent members were Darius Milhaud, Arthur Honegger, and Francis Poulenc. Thomson wrote in a variety of styles, including..
Mary Roberts Rinehart, nee Mary Roberts, (born Aug. 12, 1876, Allegheny [now in Pittsburgh], Pa., U.S.--died Sept. 22, 1958, New York, N.Y.), American novelist and playwright best known for her mystery stories.Mary Roberts graduated from the Pittsburgh Training School for Nurses in 1896. That same year she married physician Stanley M. Rinehart. She and her husband started a family, and she took up writing in 1903 as a result of difficulties created by financial losses. Her first story appeared in Munsey's Magazine in 1903. The Circular Staircase (1908), her first book and first mystery, was..
James Weldon Johnson, (born June 17, 1871, Jacksonville, Fla., U.S.--died June 26, 1938, Wiscasset, Maine), poet, diplomat, and anthologist of black culture.Trained in music and other subjects by his mother, a schoolteacher, Johnson graduated from Atlanta University with A.B. (1894) and M.A. (1904) degrees and later studied at Columbia University. For several years he was principal of the black high school in Jacksonville, Fla. He read law at the same time, was admitted to the Florida bar in 1897, and began practicing there. During this period, he and his brother, John Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954),..
Edgar Rice Burroughs, (born September 1, 1875, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.--died March 19, 1950, Encino, California), American novelist whose Tarzan stories created a folk hero known around the world.Burroughs, the son of a wealthy businessman, was educated at private schools in Chicago, at the prestigious Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts (from which he was expelled), and at Michigan Military Academy, where he subsequently taught briefly. He spent the years 1897 to 1911 in numerous unsuccessful jobs and business ventures in Chicago and Idaho. Eventually he settled in Chicago..
Sara Teasdale, in full Sara Trevor Teasdale, (born August 8, 1884, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.--died January 29, 1933, New York, New York), American poet whose short, personal lyrics were noted for their classical simplicity and quiet intensity.Teasdale was educated privately and made frequent trips to Chicago, where she eventually became part of Harriet Monroe's Poetry magazine circle. Her first published poem appeared in the St. Louis, Missouri, weekly Reedy's Mirror in May 1907, and later that year she published her first volume of verse, Sonnets to Duse, and Other Poems. A second volume,..
Nikki Giovanni, byname of Yolande Cornelia Giovanni, Jr., (born June 7, 1943, Knoxville, Tennessee, U.S.), American poet whose writings ranged from calls for black power to poems for children and intimate personal statements.Giovanni grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Knoxville, Tennessee, and in 1960 she entered Nashville's Fisk University. By 1967, when she received a B.A., she was firmly committed to the civil rights movement and the concept of black power. In her first three collections of poems, Black Feeling, Black Talk (1968), Black Judgement (1968), and Re: Creation (1970), her content..
Anne Sexton, original name Anne Harvey, (born November 9, 1928, Newton, Massachusetts, U.S.--died October 4, 1974, Weston, Massachusetts), American poet whose work is noted for its confessional intensity.Anne Harvey attended Garland Junior College for a year before her marriage in 1948 to Alfred M. Sexton II. She studied with the poet Robert Lowell at Boston University and also worked as a model and a librarian. Although she had written some poetry in childhood, it was not until the later 1950s that she began to write seriously. Her poems, which showed Lowell's influence, appeared in Harper's,..
Susan Sontag, nee Susan Rosenblatt, (born January 16, 1933, New York, New York, U.S.--died December 28, 2004, New York), American intellectual and writer best known for her essays on modern culture.Sontag (who adopted her stepfather's name) was reared in Tucson, Arizona, and in Los Angeles. She attended the University of California at Berkeley for one year and then transferred to the University of Chicago, from which she graduated in 1951. She studied English literature (M.A., 1954) and philosophy (M.A., 1955) at Harvard University and taught philosophy at several colleges and universities..
Archie Shepp, byname of Archie Vernon Shepp, (born May 24, 1937, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S.), African American tenor saxophonist, composer, dramatist, teacher, and pioneer of the free jazz movement, known not only for his creative improvisation and colourful sound but also for his Afrocentric approach to music.Shepp grew up in Philadelphia and attended Goddard College (B.A., 1959), Plainfield, Vermont. He began his musical career in New York City, where he played tenor saxophone with pianist Cecil Taylor's quartet (1960-62), a pioneer free jazz group. Following collaborations..
Edward Everett Hale, (born April 3, 1822, Boston, Mass., U.S.--died June 10, 1909, Roxbury, Mass.), American clergyman and author best remembered for his short story "The Man Without a Country."A grandnephew of the Revolutionary hero Nathan Hale and a nephew of Edward Everett, the orator, Hale trained on his father's newspaper, the Boston Daily Advertiser, and turned early to writing. For 70 years newspaper articles, historical essays, short stories, pamphlets, sermons, and novels poured from his pen in such journals as the North American Review, The Atlantic Monthly, and Christian Examiner...
Marianne Moore, in full Marianne Craig Moore, (born November 15, 1887, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.--died February 5, 1972, New York, New York), American poet whose work distilled moral and intellectual insights from the close and accurate observation of objective detail.Moore graduated from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania in 1909 as a biology major and then studied commercial subjects and taught them at the U.S. Indian School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Her first published work appeared in 1915 in the Egoist and in Harriet Monroe's Poetry magazine. After 1919, living in Brooklyn, New York,..
Mary Gordon, in full Mary Catherine Gordon, (born December 8, 1949, Long Island, New York, U.S.), American writer whose novels and short fiction deal with growing up as a Roman Catholic and with the nature of goodness and piety as expressed within that tradition.Raised in an observant Catholic family (her father was a convert from Judaism), Gordon was educated at Barnard College, New York City (B.A., 1971), and Syracuse (New York) University (M.A., 1973). Her first novel, Final Payments (1978), was a critical and popular success. The protagonist, Isabel, is 30 before she leaves home, having..
Walker Percy, (born May 28, 1916, Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.--died May 10, 1990, Covington, Louisiana), American novelist who wrote of the New South transformed by industry and technology.Orphaned in late childhood after his father, a lawyer, committed suicide and his mother died in an automobile accident, Percy went with his brothers to live with their father's cousin, a bachelor and lawyer, in Greenville, Mississippi. Percy studied at the University of North Carolina (B.A., 1937) and Columbia University (M.D., 1941) and, while working as a pathologist at Bellevue Hospital, New York..
Rita Dove, in full Rita Frances Dove, (born August 28, 1952, Akron, Ohio, U.S.), American poet, writer, and teacher who was the first African American to serve as poet laureate of the United States (1993-95).Dove was ranked one of the top hundred high-school students in the country in 1970, and she was named a Presidential Scholar. She graduated summa cum laude from Miami University in Ohio in 1973 and studied subsequently at Tubingen University in Germany. She studied creative writing at the University of Iowa (M.F.A., 1977) and published the first of several chapbooks of her poetry in 1977...
Lanford Wilson, in full Lanford Eugene Wilson, (born April 13, 1937, Lebanon, Missouri, U.S.--died March 24, 2011, Wayne, New Jersey), American playwright, a pioneer of the Off-Off-Broadway and regional theatre movements. His plays are known for experimental staging, simultaneous dialogue, and deferred character exposition. He won a 1980 Pulitzer Prize for Talley's Folly (1979).Wilson attended schools in Missouri, San Diego, and Chicago before moving to New York City in 1962. From 1963 his plays were produced regularly at Off-Off-Broadway theatres such as Caffe Cino and La Mama Experimental..
Hamlin Garland, in full Hannibal Hamlin Garland, (born September 14, 1860, West Salem, Wisconsin, U.S.--died March 4, 1940, Hollywood, California), American author perhaps best remembered for his short stories and his autobiographical "Middle Border" series of narratives.As his farming family moved progressively westward from Wisconsin to Iowa and then to the Dakotas, Garland rebelled against the vicissitudes of pioneering and went to Boston for a career in 1884. Self-educated there, he gradually won a place for himself in the literary set of Boston and Cambridge and was influenced..
Erle Stanley Gardner, (born July 17, 1889, Malden, Mass., U.S.--died March 11, 1970, Temecula, Calif.), American author and lawyer who wrote nearly 100 detective and mystery novels that sold more than 1,000,000 copies each, making him easily the best-selling American writer of his time. His best-known works centre on the lawyer-detective Perry Mason.The son of a mining engineer, Gardner traveled extensively with his family throughout childhood. He dropped out of Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Ind., after a brief time and settled in California, where he worked as a typist in a law firm...
Bill Mauldin, byname of William Henry Mauldin, (born October 29, 1921, Mountain Park, New Mexico, U.S.--died January 22, 2003, Newport Beach, California), American cartoonist who gained initial fame for his sardonic drawings of the life of the World War II combat soldier and who later became well known for editorial cartoons dealing with a wide range of political and social issues.After studying cartooning at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, Mauldin returned to the Southwest, where he worked as a cartoonist before enlisting in the U.S. Army (September 1940). He was sent to Fort Sill, Oklahoma,..
Ellen Glasgow, in full Ellen Anderson Gholson Glasgow, (born April 22, 1873, Richmond, Va., U.S.--died Nov. 21, 1945, Richmond), American novelist whose realistic depictions of life in her native Virginia helped direct Southern literature away from sentimentality and nostalgia.Glasgow, the daughter of a wealthy and socially prominent family with Old Virginia roots on her mother's side, was educated mainly at home because of her delicate health. In 1897 she anonymously published her first novel, The Descendant. It was followed by Phases of an Inferior Planet (1898). With The Voice of the..
Edna Ferber, (born August 15, 1885, Kalamazoo, Michigan, U.S.--died April 16, 1968, New York, New York), American novelist and short-story writer who wrote with compassion and curiosity about Midwestern American life.Ferber grew up mostly in her native Kalamazoo, Michigan, and in Appleton, Wisconsin (in between her family moved to several Midwestern towns). Her father, born in Hungary, was a merchant. She began her career at age 17 as a reporter in Appleton, later working for the Milwaukee Journal. Her early stories introduced a traveling petticoat saleswoman named Emma McChesney, whose..
John Ashbery, in full John Lawrence Ashbery, (born July 28, 1927, Rochester, New York, U.S.--died September 3, 2017, Hudson, New York), American poet noted for the elegance, originality, and obscurity of his poetry.Ashbery graduated from Harvard University in 1949 and received a master's degree from Columbia University in 1951. After working as a copywriter in New York City (1951-55), he lived in Paris until 1965, contributing art criticism to the Paris edition of the New York Herald-Tribune and to the American periodical Art News. Returning to New York, he served as executive editor of Art..
Van Wyck Brooks, (born Feb. 16, 1886, Plainfield, N.J., U.S.--died May 2, 1963, Bridgewater, Conn.), American critic, biographer, and literary historian, whose "Finders and Makers" series traces American literary history in rich biographical detail from 1800 to 1915.Brooks grew up in the wealthy suburb of Plainfield. Graduating from Harvard in 1907, Brooks went to England, where, while working as a journalist, he published his first book, The Wine of the Puritans (1908), in which he blamed the Puritan heritage for America's cultural shortcomings. He explored this theme more thoroughly..
Emma Lazarus, (born July 22, 1849, New York, N.Y., U.S.--died Nov. 19, 1887, New York City), American poet and essayist best known for her sonnet "The New Colossus," written to the Statue of Liberty.Born into a cultured family of Sephardic (Spanish Jewish) stock, Lazarus learned languages and the classics at an early age. She early displayed a talent for poetry, and her first book, Poems and Translations (1867), was praised by Ralph Waldo Emerson. She dedicated her next book, Admetus and Other Poems (1871), to him. These and subsequent volumes--the prose Alide: An Episode of Goethe's Life (1874),..
Ntozake Shange, original name Paulette Linda Williams, (born October 18, 1948, Trenton, New Jersey, U.S.--died October 27, 2018, Bowie, Maryland), American author of plays, poetry, and fiction noted for their feminist themes and racial and sexual anger.Shange attended Barnard College (B.A., 1970) and the University of Southern California (M.A., 1973). From 1972 to 1975 she taught humanities, women's studies, and Afro-American studies at California colleges. During this period she also made public appearances as a dancer and reciter of poetry. Her 1975 theatre piece For Colored Girls..
Sidney Lanier, (born Feb. 3, 1842, Macon, Ga., U.S.--died Sept. 7, 1881, Lynn, N.C.), American musician and poet whose verse often suggests the rhythms and thematic development of music.Lanier was reared by devoutly religious parents in the traditions of the Old South. As a child he wrote verses and was especially fond of music. After graduation in 1860 from Oglethorpe College (now University), Atlanta, Ga., he served in the Civil War until his capture and subsequent imprisonment at Point Lookout, Md., where he contracted tuberculosis. In 1867 he married Mary Day, also of Macon; and in the same..
Ralph Ellison, in full Ralph Waldo Ellison, (born March 1, 1914, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S.--died April 16, 1994, New York, New York), American writer who won eminence with his first novel (and the only one published during his lifetime), Invisible Man (1952).Ellison left Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (now Tuskegee University) in 1936 after three years' study of music and moved to New York City. There he befriended Richard Wright, who encouraged Ellison to try his hand at writing. In 1937 Ellison began contributing short stories, reviews, and essays to various periodicals...
Bernard Malamud, (born April 26, 1914, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.--died March 18, 1986, New York, New York), American novelist and short-story writer who made parables out of Jewish immigrant life.Malamud's parents were Russian Jews who had fled tsarist Russia. He was born in Brooklyn, where his father owned a small grocery store. The family was poor. Malamud's mother died when he was 15 years old, and he was unhappy when his father remarried. He early on assumed responsibility for his handicapped brother. Malamud was educated at the City College of New York (B.A., 1936) and Columbia University..
Ruth Brown, original name Ruth Alston Weston, (born Jan. 12, 1928, Portsmouth, Va., U.S.--died Nov. 17, 2006, Las Vegas, Nev.), American singer and actress, who earned the sobriquet "Miss Rhythm" while dominating the rhythm-and-blues charts throughout the 1950s. Her success helped establish Atlantic Records ("The House That Ruth Built") as the era's premier rhythm-and-blues label.The oldest of seven children, Brown was steered away from "the devil's music" by her father, a church choir director, but by her late teens she was singing in clubs in Virginia's Tidewater region and had begun..
Anais Nin, (born February 21, 1903, Neuilly, France--died January 14, 1977, Los Angeles, California, U.S.), French-born author of novels and short stories whose literary reputation rests on the eight published volumes of her personal diaries. Her writing shows the influence of the Surrealist movement and her study of psychoanalysis under Otto Rank.Brought to New York City by her mother in 1914, Nin was educated there but later returned to Europe. She launched her literary career with the publication of D.H. Lawrence: An Unprofessional Study (1932); the book led to a lifelong friendship..
Thelonious Monk, in full Thelonious Sphere Monk, (born Oct. 10, 1917, Rocky Mount, N.C., U.S.--died Feb. 17, 1982, Englewood, N.J.), American pianist and composer who was among the first creators of modern jazz.As the pianist in the band at Minton's Playhouse, a nightclub in New York City, in the early 1940s, Monk had great influence on the other musicians who later developed the bebop movement. For much of his career, Monk performed and recorded with small groups. His playing was percussive and sparse, often being described as "angular," and he used complex and dissonant harmonies and unusual..
Edgar Lee Masters, (born Aug. 23, 1868, Garnett, Kan., U.S.--died March 5, 1950, Philadelphia, Pa.), American poet and novelist, best known as the author of Spoon River Anthology (1915).Masters grew up on his grandfather's farm near New Salem, Ill., studied in his father's law office, and attended Knox College, Galesburg, Ill., for one year. He was admitted to the bar in 1891 and developed a successful law practice in Chicago.A volume of his verses appeared in 1898, followed by Maximilian, a drama in blank verse (1902), The New Star Chamber and Other Essays (1904), Blood of the Prophets (1905),..
Gwendolyn Brooks, in full Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks, (born June 7, 1917, Topeka, Kan., U.S.--died Dec. 3, 2000, Chicago, Ill.), American poet whose works deal with the everyday life of urban blacks. She was the first African American poet to win the Pulitzer Prize (1950), and in 1968 she was named the poet laureate of Illinois.Brooks graduated from Wilson Junior College in Chicago in 1936. Her early verses appeared in the Chicago Defender, a newspaper written primarily for that city's African American community. Her first published collection, A Street in Bronzeville (1945), reveals her..
Lucille Clifton, original name Thelma Lucille Sayles, (born June 27, 1936, Depew, New York, U.S.--died February 13, 2010, Baltimore, Maryland), American poet whose works examine family life, racism, and gender.Born of a family that was descended from slaves, she attended Howard University from 1953 to 1955 and graduated from Fredonia State Teachers College (now State University of New York College at Fredonia) in 1955. Three years later she married Fred James Clifton, and in 1969 her first book, a collection of poetry titled Good Times, was published.Clifton worked in state and federal..
Jennie Jerome Churchill, nee Jeanette Jerome, formally Lady Randolph Churchill, (born January 9, 1854, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.--died June 29, 1921, London, England), American-born society figure, remembered chiefly as the wife of Lord Randolph Churchill and mother of Sir Winston Churchill, prime minister of Great Britain (1940-45, 1951-55).Jeanette Jerome was the daughter of a prosperous American financier and a socially ambitious mother. In 1867 she and her two sisters were taken to Paris by their mother following a scandalous escapade involving their father, and her education and..
Rosa Parks , nee Rosa Louise McCauley, (born February 4, 1913, Tuskegee, Alabama, U.S.--died October 24, 2005, Detroit, Michigan), African American civil rights activist whose refusal to relinquish her seat on a public bus to a white man precipitated the 1955-56 Montgomery bus boycott in Alabama, which is recognized as the spark that ignited the U.S. civil rights movement.In 1932 she married Raymond Parks, who encouraged her to return to high school and earn a diploma. She later made her living as a seamstress. In 1943 Parks became a member of the Montgomery..
Audre Lorde, in full Audre Geraldine Lorde, also called Gamba Adisa or Rey Domini, (born February 18, 1934, New York, New York, U.S.--died November 17, 1992, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands), American poet, essayist, and autobiographer known for her passionate writings on lesbian feminism and racial issues.The daughter of Grenadan parents, Lorde attended Hunter College and received a B.A. in 1959 and a master's degree in library science in 1961. She married in 1962 and wrote poetry while working as a librarian at Town School in New York; she also taught English at Hunter College. In 1968 her first..
Katharine Graham, nee Katharine Meyer, (born June 16, 1917, New York, New York, U.S.--died July 17, 2001, Boise, Idaho), American business executive who owned and published various news publicatons, most notably The Washington Post, which she transformed into one of the leading newspapers in the United States. She was especially known for supporting the Post's investigation into the Watergate scandal.The daughter of the publisher Eugene Meyer and the educator Agnes Meyer, Katharine Meyer attended Vassar College from 1934 to 1936 and then transferred to the University of Chicago, graduating..
Richard Ford, (born February 16, 1944, Jackson, Mississippi, U.S.), American writer of novels and short stories about lonely and damaged people.Ford attended Michigan State University (B.A., 1966), Washington University Law School, and the University of California, Irvine (M.A., 1970), and he subsequently taught at several American colleges and universities. He worked as a sportswriter during the 1980s.Ford's first novel, A Piece of My Heart (1976), is set on an island in the southern Mississippi River and contrasts an intellectual with an impulsive man in an atmosphere of menace and..
Joel Barlow, (born March 24, 1754, Redding, Connecticut [U.S.]--died December 24, 1812, Zarnowiec, Poland), public official, poet, and author of the mock-heroic poem The Hasty Pudding.A graduate of Yale, he was a chaplain for three years in the Revolutionary Army. In July 1784 he established at Hartford, Connecticut, a weekly paper, the American Mercury. In 1786 he was admitted to the bar. Along with John Trumbull and Timothy Dwight, he was a member of the group of young writers, known as the Connecticut, or Hartford, Wits, whose patriotism led them to attempt to create a national literature...
Shel Silverstein, in full Sheldon Allan Silverstein, (born September 25, 1930, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.--died May 10, 1999, Key West, Florida), American cartoonist, children's author, poet, songwriter, and playwright best known for his light verse and quirky cartoons.In the 1950s Silverstein drew for the military magazine Stars and Stripes while serving in Japan and Korea, and he also contributed to Playboy. He created the adult book of drawings Now Here's My Plan: A Book of Futilities (1960) before turning to works for children. His first efforts, written under the name Uncle Shelby, included..
Oscar Hijuelos, (born August 24, 1951, New York, New York, U.S.--died October 12, 2013, New York), American novelist, the son of Cuban immigrants, whose writing chronicles the pre-Castro Cuban immigrant experience in the United States, particularly in New York City.Hijuelos attended City College of the City University of New York, where he received a B.A. in 1975 and an M.A. in 1976. He won critical acclaim for his first novel, Our House in the Last World (1983), and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1990 for his second novel, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love (1989; filmed as The Mambo Kings, 1992)...
Harold Prince, in full Harold Smith Prince, byname Hal Prince, (born January 30, 1928, New York, New York, U.S.--died July 31, 2019, Reykjavik, Iceland), American theatrical producer and director who was recognized as one of the most creative and innovative figures on Broadway in the 20th century.The son of a New York stockbroker, Prince majored in English at the University of Pennsylvania (B.A., 1948) and began his theatrical career as an apprentice and stage manager for the noted producer and director George Abbott. In 1953 he began producing musicals (initially in partnership with Robert..
Russell Hoban, in full Russell Conwell Hoban, (born February 4, 1925, Lansdale, Pennsylvania, U.S.--died December 13, 2011, London, England), American novelist and children's writer who combined myth, fantasy, humour, and philosophy to explore issues of self-identity.Hoban attended the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art and served in the U.S. Army (1943-45) before beginning his career as an advertising artist and copywriter. He moved to London in 1969. His first book, What Does It Do and How Does It Work? (1959), developed from his drawings of construction machinery. He then..
Walter Lippmann, (born Sept. 23, 1889, New York City--died Dec. 14, 1974, New York City), American newspaper commentator and author who in a 60-year career made himself one of the most widely respected political columnists in the world.While studying at Harvard (B.A., 1909), Lippmann was influenced by the philosophers William James and George Santayana. He helped to found (1914) The New Republic and served as its assistant editor under Herbert David Croly. Through his writings in that liberal weekly and through direct consultation, he influenced Pres. Woodrow Wilson, who is said to have..
Danica McKellar, (born January 3, 1975, La Jolla, California, U.S.), American actress, mathematician, and author who first garnered attention for her role on the television series The Wonder Years (1988-93) and later promoted math education, especially for girls.From about age seven McKellar lived in Los Angeles, where she studied at the Diane Hill Hardin Young Actors Space, a performing arts academy. She appeared in commercials and in two episodes (1985, 1987) of The Twilight Zone before being cast as teenager Winnie Cooper in The Wonder Years, a popular comedy-drama that celebrated the..
Allen Tate, in full John Orley Allen Tate, (born November 19, 1899, Winchester, Kentucky, U.S.--died February 9, 1979, Nashville, Tennessee), American poet, teacher, novelist, and a leading exponent of the New Criticism. In both his criticism and his poetry, he emphasized the writer's need for a tradition to adhere to; he found his tradition in the culture of the conservative, agrarian South and, later, in Roman Catholicism, to which he converted in 1950.In 1918 Tate entered Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, where he helped found The Fugitive (1922-25), a magazine for a group..
Thornton Wilder, in full Thornton Niven Wilder, (born April 17, 1897, Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.--died December 7, 1975, Hamden, Connecticut), American writer whose innovative novels and plays reflect his views of the universal truths in human nature. He is probably best known for his plays.After graduating from Yale University in 1920, Wilder studied archaeology in Rome. From 1930 to 1937 he taught dramatic literature and the classics at the University of Chicago.His first novel, The Cabala (1926), set in 20th-century Rome, is essentially a fantasy about the death of the pagan gods. His..
Carl Sandburg, (born Jan. 6, 1878, Galesburg, Ill., U.S.--died July 22, 1967, Flat Rock, N.C.), American poet, historian, novelist, and folklorist.From the age of 11, Sandburg worked in various occupations--as a barbershop porter, a milk truck driver, a brickyard hand, and a harvester in the Kansas wheat fields. When the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898, he enlisted in the 6th Illinois Infantry. These early years he later described in his autobiography Always the Young Strangers (1953).From 1910 to 1912 he acted as an organizer for the Social Democratic Party and secretary to the mayor..
David Halberstam, (born April 10, 1934, New York, New York, U.S.--died April 23, 2007, Menlo Park, California), American journalist and author who received a Pulitzer Prize in 1964 for his penetrating coverage of the Vietnam War as a staff reporter (1960-67) for The New York Times. He went on to become the best-selling author of more than 20 meticulously researched books.After earning a bachelor's degree in journalism from Harvard University (1955), Halberstam worked as a reporter for the Daily Times Leader in West Point, Mississippi, and for the Nashville Tennessean (now the Tennessean)..
Danielle Steel, in full Danielle Fernande Schuelein-Steel, (born August 14, 1947, New York City, New York, U.S.), American writer best known for her numerous best-selling romance novels.Steel was an only child. After her parents divorced, she was reared by relatives and family employees in Paris and New York City. By age 15 she had graduated from the Lycee Francais, and in 1963 she enrolled in the Parsons School of Design in New York. Illness prevented her from finishing her studies, but, when she recovered, she married a wealthy French banker. In 1968 she was hired as a vice president of public..
Joseph Heller, (born May 1, 1923, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.--died December 12, 1999, East Hampton, New York), American writer whose novel Catch-22 (1961) was one of the most significant works of protest literature to appear after World War II. The satirical novel was a popular success, and a film version appeared in 1970.During World War II, Heller flew 60 combat missions as a bombardier with the U.S. Air Force in Europe. After receiving an M.A. at Columbia University in 1949, he studied at the University of Oxford (1949-50) as a Fulbright scholar. He taught English at Pennsylvania State University..
Elmore Leonard, in full Elmore John Leonard, Jr., byname Dutch, (born October 11, 1925, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.--died August 20, 2013, Bloomfield township, Michigan), American author of popular crime novels known for his clean prose style, uncanny ear for realistic dialogue, effective use of violence, unforced satiric wit, and colourful characters.Leonard served in the U.S. Naval Reserve (1943-46), then graduated with a bachelor of philosophy degree from the University of Detroit in 1950. While composing scripts for advertising and educational films, he began writing western..
John Berryman, (born Oct. 25, 1914, McAlester, Okla., U.S.--died Jan. 7, 1972, Minneapolis, Minn.), U.S. poet whose importance was assured by the publication in 1956 of the long poem Homage to Mistress Bradstreet.Berryman was brought up a strict Roman Catholic in the small Oklahoma town of Anadarko, moving at 10 with his family to Tampa, Fla. When the boy was 12, his father killed himself. Berryman attended a private school in Connecticut and graduated from Columbia University, where he was influenced by his teacher, the poet Mark Van Doren. After study at the University of Cambridge in 1938,..
Philip Levine, (born January 10, 1928, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.--died February 14, 2015, Fresno, California), American poet of urban working-class life.Levine was of Russian Jewish descent. He studied at Wayne University (now Wayne State University), Detroit (B.A., 1950; M.A., 1955), and the University of Iowa (M.F.A., 1957). He worked at a series of industrial jobs before he began teaching literature and creative writing at California State University, Fresno (1958-92). In addition, he was poet in residence at a number of colleges and universities.In his poetry Levine attempted to..
William Cullen Bryant, (born Nov. 3, 1794, Cummington, Mass., U.S.--died June 12, 1878, New York City), poet of nature, best remembered for "Thanatopsis," and editor for 50 years of the New York Evening Post.A descendant of early Puritan immigrants, Bryant at 16 entered the sophomore class of Williams College. Because of finances and in hopes of attending Yale, he withdrew without graduating. Unable to enter Yale, he studied law under private guidance at Worthington and at Bridgewater and at 21 was admitted to the bar. He spent nearly 10 years in Plainfield and at Great Barrington as an attorney,..
Robert Motherwell, (born Jan. 24, 1915, Aberdeen, Wash., U.S.--died July 16, 1991, Provincetown, Mass.), American painter, one of the founders and principal exponents of Abstract Expressionism (q.v.), who was among the first American artists to cultivate accidental elements in his work.A precocious youth, Motherwell received a scholarship to study art when he was 11 years old. He preferred academic studies, however, and eventually took degrees in aesthetics from Stanford and Harvard universities.Motherwell decided to become a serious artist only in 1941. Although he was especially..
Abbie Hoffman, byname of Abbott Hoffman, (born November 30, 1936, Worcester, Massachusetts, U.S.--died April 12, 1989, New Hope, Pennsylvania), American political activist and founder of the Youth International Party (Yippies), who was known for his successful media events.Hoffman, who received psychology degrees from both Brandeis University (1959) and the University of California, Berkeley (1960), was active in the American civil rights movement before turning his energies to protesting the Vietnam War and the American economic and political system. His acts of protest blurred..
Ella Wheeler Wilcox, nee Ella Wheeler, (born Nov. 5, 1850, Johnstown Center, Rock county, Wis., U.S.--died Oct. 30, 1919, Short Beach, Conn.), American poet and journalist who is perhaps best remembered for verse tinged with an eroticism that, while rather oblique, was still unconventional for her time.Ella Wheeler from an early age was an avid reader of popular literature, especially the novels of E.D.E.N. Southworth, Mary Jane Holmes, and Ouida. Her first published work, some sketches submitted to the New York Mercury, appeared when she was 14 years old. Soon her poems were appearing in..
Ann Beattie, (born September 8, 1947, Washington, D.C., U.S.), American writer of short stories and novels whose characters, having come of age in the 1960s, often have difficulties adjusting to the cultural values of later generations.Beattie graduated from the American University in Washington, D.C., in 1969 and received a master of arts degree from the University of Connecticut in 1970. Her short stories were published in The New Yorker and other literary magazines beginning in the early 1970s. She published her first collection of stories, Distortions, in 1976. Her first novel, Chilly..
Maurice Sendak, in full Maurice Bernard Sendak, (born June 10, 1928, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.--died May 8, 2012, Danbury, Connecticut), American artist and writer best known for his illustrated children's books.Sendak was the son of Polish immigrants and received his formal art training at the Art Students League of New York. While a student there, he drew backgrounds for All-American Comics and did window displays for a toy store. The first children's books he illustrated were Marcel Ayme's The Wonderful Farm (1951) and Ruth Krauss's A Hole Is to Dig (1952). Both were successful, and Sendak..
Linda Ronstadt, in full Linda Marie Ronstadt, (born July 15, 1946, Tucson, Arizona, U.S.), American singer, with a pure, expressive soprano voice and eclectic artistic tastes, whose performances called attention to a number of new songwriters and helped establish country rock music.After winning attention with a folk-oriented trio, the Stone Poneys, in California in the mid-1960s, Ronstadt embarked upon a solo career in 1968, introducing material by songwriters such as Neil Young and Jackson Browne and collaborating with top country-oriented rock musicians (including future members..
Mary Austin, nee Mary Hunter, (born Sept. 9, 1868, Carlinville, Ill., U.S.--died Aug. 13, 1934, Santa Fe, N.M.), novelist and essayist who wrote about Native American culture and social problems.Mary Hunter graduated from Blackburn College in 1888 and soon afterward moved with her family to Bakersfield, California. She married Stafford W. Austin in 1891, and for several years they lived in various towns in California's Owens Valley. Mary Austin soon learned to love the desert and the Native Americans who lived in it, and both figured in the sketches that constituted her first book, The Land..
Natasha Trethewey, (born April 26, 1966, Gulfport, Mississippi, U.S.), American poet and teacher who served as poet laureate consultant in poetry (2012-14). Her subjects were chiefly history (both her family's and that of the American South), race, and memory.Trethewey was born in the Deep South to an African American mother and a white father on the centennial of Confederate Memorial Day. Interracial marriage was still against the law in Mississippi when she was born. Her mother, a social worker, and her father, a Canadian poet and teacher, divorced when she was six. Her mother married again..
Jennifer Egan, (born September 6, 1962, Chicago, Illinois), American novelist and short-story writer whose diverse works garnered great critical acclaim.Egan was born in Chicago but grew up in San Francisco. She attended the University of Pennsylvania and then went to England to study at St. John's College, Cambridge. During this period she also visited different locales in Europe. Her excursions were reflected in her first novel, The Invisible Circus (1995; film 2001), which tells the story of a girl who travels through Europe, tracing the footsteps of her dead sister. Her short-story..
Donald Judd, in full Donald Clarence Judd, (born June 3, 1928, Excelsior Springs, Missouri, U.S.--died February 12, 1994, New York, New York), American artist and critic associated with Minimalism. Credited as Minimalism's principal spokesman, Judd wrote what is considered to be one of the most significant texts of the movement, "Specific Objects" (1965; published first in Arts Yearbook 8 and later in the exhibition catalog Donald Judd: 1955-1968, 2002). The article laid out the Minimalist platform of stressing the physical, phenomenological experience of objects rather than representing..
Chaim Potok, original name Herman Harold Potok, (born February 17, 1929, New York, New York, U.S.--died July 23, 2002, Merion, Pennsylvania), American rabbi and author whose novels introduced to American fiction the spiritual and cultural life of Orthodox Jews.The son of Polish immigrants, Potok was reared in an Orthodox home and attended religious schools. As a young man, he was drawn to the less restrictive Conservative doctrine; after graduation from Yeshiva University in 1950 and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1954 (both in New York City), he was ordained a Conservative..
William Gibson, in full William Ford Gibson, (born March 17, 1948, Conway, South Carolina, U.S.), American-Canadian writer of science fiction who was the leader of the genre's cyberpunk movement.Gibson grew up in southwestern Virginia. After dropping out of high school in 1967, he traveled to Canada and eventually settled there, earning a B.A. (1977) from the University of British Columbia. Many of Gibson's early stories, including Johnny Mnemonic (1981; film 1995) and Burning Chrome (1982), were published in Omni magazine. With the publication of his first novel, Neuromancer (1984),..
Ring Lardner, original name Ringgold Wilmer Lardner, (born March 6, 1885, Niles, Mich., U.S.--died Sept. 25, 1933, East Hampton, N.Y.), American writer, one of the most gifted, as well as the most bitter, satirists in the United States and a fine storyteller with a true ear for the vernacular.Lardner came from a well-to-do family, although his father lost most of his fortune during Lardner's last year in high school. He attended Armour Institute of Technology in Chicago for one term and then worked at a series of jobs before beginning his writing career in 1905 as a reporter for the South Bend Times..
William Ellery Channing, (born April 7, 1780, Newport, R.I.--died Oct. 2, 1842, Bennington, Vt., U.S.), U.S. author and moralist, Congregationalist and, later, Unitarian clergyman. Known as the "apostle of Unitarianism," Channing was a leading figure in the development of New England Transcendentalism and of organized attempts in the U.S. to eliminate slavery, drunkenness, poverty, and war.He studied theology in Newport and at Harvard and soon became a successful preacher in various churches in the Boston area. From June 1, 1803, until his death he was minister of the Federal Street Church,..
Ana Castillo, in full Ana Hernandez del Castillo, (born June 15, 1953, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.), American poet and author whose work explores themes of race, sexuality, and gender, especially as they relate to issues of power.Castillo studied art education at Northeastern Illinois University (B.A., 1975), where she became involved in Hispanic American artistic, activist, and intellectual circles. Castillo's first collection of poems, Otro Canto (1977), was published as a chapbook. In 1979, shortly after receiving an M.A. in social sciences from the University of Chicago, she published..
John Hay, in full John Milton Hay, (born October 8, 1838, Salem, Indiana, U.S.--died July 1, 1905, Newbury, New Hampshire), U.S. secretary of state (1898-1905) who skillfully guided the diplomacy of his country during the critical period of its emergence as a great power; he is particularly associated with the Open Door policy toward China.Hay studied law in Springfield, Illinois, where he met the future president Abraham Lincoln. He served as President Lincoln's private secretary from 1861 to 1865, and under succeeding Republican administrations he held various diplomatic posts in Europe...
Clare Boothe Luce, nee Ann Clare Boothe, (born March 10, 1903, New York, New York, U.S.--died October 9, 1987, Washington, D.C.), American playwright, politician, and celebrity, noted for her satiric sense of humour and for her role in American politics.Luce was born into poverty and an unstable home life; her father, William Franklin Boothe, left the family when she was eight years old. Through sacrifices by her mother, she was able to attend private schools in Garden City and Tarrytown, New York. At age 20 she married George Brokaw, the wealthy son of a clothing manufacturer and 23 years her..
Joan Didion, (born December 5, 1934, Sacramento, California, U.S.), American novelist and essayist known for her lucid prose style and incisive depictions of social unrest and psychological fragmentation.Didion graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1956 and then worked for Vogue magazine from 1956 to 1963, first as a copywriter and later as an editor. During this period she wrote her first novel, Run River (1963), which examines the disintegration of a California family. While in New York City, she met and married writer John Gregory Dunne, with whom she returned to California..
Beverly Cleary, nee Beverly Atlee Bunn, (born April 12, 1916, McMinnville, Oregon, U.S.), American children's writer whose award-winning books are lively, humorous portrayals of problems and events faced in real life by school-aged girls and boys.Beverly Bunn lived on a farm near Yamhill, Oregon, before moving to Portland--the setting of many of her books--when she was six. She was educated at the University of California, Berkeley, where she earned a B.A. in 1938, and at the University of Washington, where she took a second degree in library science the following year. From 1939 to 1940 she..
Henry Luce, in full Henry Robinson Luce, (born April 3, 1898, Dengzhou, Shandong province, China--died February 28, 1967, Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.), American magazine publisher who built a publishing empire on Time, Fortune, and Life magazines, becoming one of the most powerful figures in the history of American journalism. Luce's publications, founded as a means of educating what he considered a poorly informed American public, had many imitators. Time, a "weekly newsmagazine," sought to present news in narrative form. The magazine also stressed world events, an area that Luce believed..
Cormac McCarthy, byname of Charles McCarthy, Jr., (born July 20, 1933, Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.), American writer in the Southern gothic tradition whose novels about wayward characters in the rural American South and Southwest are noted for their dark violence, dense prose, and stylistic complexity.McCarthy attended the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and served in the U.S. Air Force from 1953 to 1956. Readers were first introduced to McCarthy's difficult narrative style in the novel The Orchard Keeper (1965), about a Tennessee man and his two mentors. Social outcasts highlight..
Alice Roosevelt Longworth, nee Alice Lee Roosevelt, (born February 12, 1884, New York, New York, U.S.--died February 20, 1980, Washington, D.C.), American socialite and daughter of U.S. Pres. Theodore Roosevelt, who was known for her wit and her political influence.At the time of Alice Roosevelt's birth, her father was a New York assemblyman. Her mother died two days after her birth, and during her father's long absence in Dakota Territory she was reared by an aunt. After her father's marriage in December 1886 to Edith Kermit Carow and the establishment of the family seat at Sagamore Hill in..
Carl Schurz, (born March 2, 1829, Liblar, near Cologne, Prussia [now in Germany]--died May 14, 1906, New York, N.Y., U.S.), German-American political leader, journalist, orator, and dedicated reformer who pressed for high moral standards in government in a period of notorious public laxity.As a student at the University of Bonn, Schurz participated in the abortive German revolution of 1848, was imprisoned, escaped, and eventually came to the United States (1852). He settled in Wisconsin (1856), quickly became active in the antislavery movement, and, as a delegate to the Republican National..
Scott Turow, (born April 12, 1949, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.), American lawyer and best-selling writer known for crime and suspense novels dealing with law and the legal profession.Turow received a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree in 1978 from Harvard University. While there he published a nonfiction work, One L: What They Really Teach You at Harvard Law School (1977), that is considered a classic for law students. His first novel, Presumed Innocent (1987; film 1990), was written while he was working as an assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago (1978-86). The story of Rusty Sabich, a deputy prosecutor..
Ricky Jay, original name Richard Potash, (born 1948, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.--died November 24, 2018, Los Angeles, California), American magician, actor, author, and historian, widely regarded as the most gifted sleight-of-hand artist of his generation.He made his performing debut at age four during a backyard barbecue held by his grandfather Max Katz, then the president of the Society of American Magicians. By age seven, Jay was appearing on local television shows in New York City. After apprenticing with Los Angeles-based magicians Dai Vernon and Charlie Miller in the early 1970s,..
Laura Ingalls Wilder, nee Laura Ingalls, (born February 7, 1867, Lake Pepin, Wisconsin, U.S.--died February 10, 1957, Mansfield, Missouri), American author of children's fiction based on her own youth in the American Midwest.Laura Ingalls grew up in a family that moved frequently from one part of the American frontier to another. Her father took the family by covered wagon to Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Indian Territory, and Dakota Territory. At age 15 she began teaching in rural schools. In 1885 she married Almanzo J. Wilder, with whom she lived from 1894 on a farm near Mansfield, Missouri...
Budd Schulberg, in full Seymour Wilson Schulberg, (born March 27, 1914, New York City, New York, U.S.--died August 5, 2009, Westhampton Beach, New York), American novelist, screenwriter, and journalist who was best known for the novel What Makes Sammy Run? (1941) and for the screenplay for the movie On the Waterfront (1954).The son of the Hollywood motion-picture producer Benjamin Percival ("B.P.") Schulberg (1892-1957), who for many years was production chief at Paramount Pictures, Schulberg grew up in Hollywood and became a "reader" and then a screenwriter after completing his education..
William Bolcom, in full William Elden Bolcom, (born May 26, 1938, Seattle, Washington, U.S.), American composer, pianist, and teacher whose compositions encompass many idioms, from popular cabaret songs to more-traditional classical scores.Bolcom graduated from the University of Washington in 1958 and studied composition with Darius Milhaud at Mills College (1958-61) and with Milhaud and Olivier Messiaen at the Paris Conservatory. He continued his studies at Stanford University (D.M.A., 1964). Thereafter, he taught or was composer in residence at a number of schools before becoming..
Julien Green, in full Julien Hartridge Green, Julien also spelled Julian, (born Sept. 6, 1900, Paris, France--died Aug. 13, 1998, Paris), French American writer of sombre psychological novels that show a preoccupation with violence and death. Green was the first person of American parentage to be elected to the Academie Francaise (1971).The son of an American business agent in Paris, Green spent his youth in France and was deeply influenced by his mother's reminiscences of genteel society in the American South. After serving in the French army during World War I, he entered at age 19 the University..
Kate Smith, byname of Kathryn Elizabeth Smith, (born May 1, 1909, Greenville, Va., U.S.--died June 17, 1986, Raleigh, N.C.), American singer on radio and television, long known as the "first lady of radio."Smith started singing before audiences as a child, and by age 17 she had decided on a career in show business. She went to New York City in 1926 and landed a role in a Broadway musical, Honeymoon Lane, the same year. In a succession of Broadway shows she had little chance to sing, however; she was wanted mainly for comic "fat girl" roles that she despised. Her chance as a full-time singer came in 1930..
Edwin Arlington Robinson, (born Dec. 22, 1869, Head Tide, Maine, U.S.--died April 6, 1935, New York, N.Y.), American poet who is best known for his short dramatic poems concerning the people in a small New England village, Tilbury Town, very much like the Gardiner, Maine, in which he grew up.After his family suffered financial reverses, Robinson cut short his attendance at Harvard University (1891-93) and returned to Gardiner to stay with his family, whose fortunes were disintegrating. The lives of both his brothers ended in failure and early death, and Robinson's poetry is much concerned..
Conrad Aiken, in full Conrad Potter Aiken, (born August 5, 1889, Savannah, Georgia, U.S.--died August 17, 1973, Savannah), American Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, short-story writer, novelist, and critic whose works, influenced by early psychoanalytic theory, are concerned largely with the human need for self-awareness and a sense of identity. Aiken himself faced considerable trauma in his childhood when he found the bodies of his parents after his father had killed his mother and committed suicide. He later wrote of this in his autobiography Ushant (1952).Aiken was educated at private..
Dick Gregory, byname of Richard Claxton Gregory, (born October 12, 1932, St. Louis, Mo., U.S.--died August 19, 2017, Washington, D.C.), African-American comedian, civil rights activist, and spokesman for health issues, who became nationally recognized in the 1960s for a biting brand of comedy that attacked racial prejudice. By addressing his hard-hitting satire to white audiences, he gave a comedic voice to the rising Civil Rights Movement. In the 1980s his nutrition business venture targeted unhealthy diets of black Americans.Reared in poverty in St. Louis, Gregory began working at..
Jules Feiffer, (born January 26, 1929, New York, New York, U.S.), American cartoonist and writer who became famous for his Feiffer, a satirical comic strip notable for its emphasis on very literate captions. The verbal elements usually took the form of monologues in which the speaker (sometimes pathetic, sometimes pompous) exposed his own insecurities.Feiffer was educated at the Art Students League of New York and Pratt Institute in New York City, later assisting several comic-strip artists as he learned his trade. From 1949 to 1951 he drew Clifford, a Sunday cartoon-page feature. During..
Gordon Parks, in full Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks, (born November 30, 1912, Fort Scott, Kansas, U.S.--died March 7, 2006, New York, New York), American author, photographer, and film director who documented African American life.The son of a tenant farmer, Parks grew up in poverty. After dropping out of high school, he held a series of odd jobs, including pianist and waiter. In 1938 he bought a camera and initially made a name for himself as a portrait and fashion photographer. After moving to Chicago, he began chronicling life on the city's impoverished South Side. These photographs..
Henry Rollins, original name Henry Garfield, (born February 13, 1961, Washington, D.C., U.S.), American singer, poet, monologuist, and publisher whose tenure as the lead vocalist of Los Angeles hardcore group Black Flag made him one of the most recognizable faces in the 1980s punk scene.Rollins was an avid fan of hardcore music, and, as a teenager, he performed with a number of bands in the Washington, D.C., area. During a performance by Black Flag in New York City, Rollins, who was in the audience, climbed onstage and sang along with the group. Dez Cadena, then Black Flag's front man, had been..
Fanny Crosby, byname of Frances Jane Crosby, married name Fanny Van Alstyne, (born March 24, 1820, Southeast, N.Y., U.S.--died Feb. 12, 1915, Bridgeport, Conn.), American writer of hymns, the best known of which was "Safe in the Arms of Jesus."Crosby lost her sight to an eye infection and medical ignorance at the age of six weeks. She nonetheless grew up an active and happy child. From 1835 to 1843 she attended the New York Institution for the Blind in New York City. Her inclination to versify was encouraged by a visiting Scottish phrenologist, who examined her and proclaimed her a poet. Thereafter..
Eudora Welty, (born April 13, 1909, Jackson, Mississippi, U.S.--died July 23, 2001, Jackson), American short-story writer and novelist whose work is mainly focused with great precision on the regional manners of people inhabiting a small Mississippi town that resembles her own birthplace and the Delta country.Welty attended Mississippi State College for Women before transferring to the University of Wisconsin, from which she graduated in 1929. During the Great Depression she was a photographer on the Works Progress Administration's Guide to Mississippi, and photography remained..
Camille Paglia, (born April 2, 1947, Endicott, New York, U.S.), American academic, aesthete, and self-described feminist known for her unorthodox views on sexuality and the development of culture and art in Western civilization.
Paglia was the daughter of a professor of Romance languages and was valedictorian of her class at the State University of New York at Binghamton (B.A., 1968). She became a disciple of the outspoken critic and educator Harold Bloom at Yale University, where she earned a Ph.D. in 1974. She was a teacher of literature at Bennington (Vermont) College (1972-80) and Wesleyan..
Mae West, original name Mary Jane West, (born August 17, 1893, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.--died November 22, 1980, Los Angeles, California), American stage and film actress, a sex symbol whose frank sensuality, languid postures, and blase wisecracking became her trademarks. She usually portrayed women who accepted their lives of dubious virtue with flippant good humour.West made her debut with a Brooklyn stock company about 1901, and by 1907 she had become a performer on the national vaudeville circuit in partnership with Frank Wallace. She made her Broadway debut as a singer and acrobatic..
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, nee Marjorie Kinnan, (born Aug. 8, 1896, Washington, D.C., U.S.--died Dec. 14, 1953, St. Augustine, Fla.), American short-story writer and novelist who founded a regional literature of backwoods Florida.Marjorie Kinnan's father, who worked for the U.S. Patent Office, died when she was age 17, and she moved with her mother to Madison, Wis. One of her childhood stories had been published in The Washington Post when she was age 11, and she had won a McCall's writing contest in 1912. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1918. The next year she married Charles..
Wallace Stevens, (born Oct. 2, 1879, Reading, Pa., U.S.--died Aug. 2, 1955, Hartford, Conn.), American poet whose work explores the interaction of reality and what man can make of reality in his mind. It was not until late in life that Stevens was read at all widely or recognized as a major poet by more than a few.Stevens attended Harvard for three years, worked briefly for the New York Herald Tribune, and then won a degree (1904) at the New York Law School and practiced law in New York City. His first published poems, aside from college verse, appeared in 1914 in Poetry, and thereafter he was a frequent..
Roger Sessions, (born Dec. 28, 1896, Brooklyn, N.Y., U.S.--died March 16, 1985, Princeton, N.J.), American composer of symphonic and instrumental music who played a leading part in educating his contemporaries to an appreciation of modern music.He studied at Harvard University and at the Yale School of Music and later took composition lessons from Ernest Bloch. After several years in Europe he returned to the United States in 1933. Between 1928 and 1931, however, in association with Aaron Copland, he had presented an important series of concerts of modern music, the Copland-Sessions Concerts..
James Michener, in full James Albert Michener, (born February 3, 1907?, New York City, New York?, U.S.--died October 16, 1997, Austin, Texas), American novelist and short-story writer who, perhaps more than any other single author, made foreign environments accessible to Americans through fiction. Best known for his novels, he wrote epic and detailed works classified as fictional documentaries.Michener was a foundling discovered in Doylestown, Pennsylvania; there is uncertainty about the date and place of his birth. He was adopted by Mabel Michener and raised as a Quaker. In his teens..
Henry Miller, (born Dec. 26, 1891, New York City--died June 7, 1980, Pacific Palisades, Calif., U.S.), U.S. writer and perennial Bohemian whose autobiographical novels achieve a candour--particularly about sex--that made them a liberating influence in mid-20th-century literature. He is also notable for a free and easy American style and a gift for comedy that springs from his willingness to admit to feelings others conceal and an almost eager acceptance of the bad along with the good. Because of their sexual frankness, his major works were banned in Britain and the United States until the..
Helen Gurley Brown, nee Helen Gurley, (born February 18, 1922, Green Forest, Arkansas, U.S.--died August 13, 2012, New York City, New York), American writer and editor whose upbeat, stylish publications, beginning in the mid-20th century, emphasized sexual and career independence and adventure for a large audience of young women.Helen Gurley was a student at Texas State College for Women (1939-41; now Texas Woman's University) and at Woodbury's Business College (1942; now Woodbury University) before becoming a copywriter for the advertising firm of Foote, Cone & Belding in 1948...
Christopher Isherwood, byname of Christopher William Bradshaw-Isherwood, (born August 26, 1904, High Lane, Cheshire, England--died January 4, 1986, Santa Monica, California, U.S.), Anglo-American novelist and playwright best known for his novels about Berlin in the early 1930s.After working as a secretary and a private tutor, Isherwood gained a measure of coterie recognition with his first two novels, All the Conspirators (1928) and The Memorial (1932). During the 1930s he collaborated with his friend W.H. Auden on three verse dramas, including The Ascent of F6 (1936). But it had been..
Lillian Hellman, (born June 20, 1905, New Orleans, La., U.S.--died June 30, 1984, Vineyard Haven, Martha's Vineyard, Mass.), American playwright and motion-picture screenwriter whose dramas forcefully attacked injustice, exploitation, and selfishness.Hellman attended New York public schools and New York University and Columbia University. Her marriage (1925-32) to the playwright Arthur Kober ended in divorce. She had already begun an intimate friendship with the novelist Dashiell Hammett that would continue until his death in 1961. In the 1930s, after working as book reviewer,..
Mark Van Doren, (born June 13, 1894, Hope, Illinois, U.S.--died December 10, 1972, Torrington, Connecticut), American poet, writer, and eminent teacher. He upheld the writing of verse in traditional forms throughout a lengthy period of experiment in poetry. As a teacher at Columbia University for 39 years (1920-59), he exercised a profound influence on generations of students.Van Doren was the son of a country doctor. He was reared on the family farm in eastern Illinois and in the town of Urbana. Following in the footsteps of his older brother, Carl, he attended Columbia University and became..
Gloria Steinem, in full Gloria Marie Steinem, (born March 25, 1934, Toledo, Ohio, U.S.), American feminist, political activist, and editor who was an articulate advocate of the women's liberation movement during the late 20th and early 21st centuries.Steinem spent her early years traveling with her parents in a house trailer. After their divorce in 1946, Gloria settled with her mother in Toledo, Ohio, and for the first time began attending school on a regular basis. Her childhood was marked by the added responsibility of taking care of her mother, who was chronically depressed. During her..