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Douglas Noël Adams (1952–2001) by Brian Griffin, 1986 © Brian Griffin; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

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Adams, Douglas Noël (1952–2001), writer, was born on 11 March 1952 at the maternity hospital in Cambridge, the son of Christopher Douglas Adams (d. 1985) and his wife, Janet Dora Sydney, née Donovan.

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Aidé, (Charles) Hamilton (1826–1906), novelist and poet, born in the rue St Honoré, Paris, on 4 November 1826, was the younger son of George Aïdá (d. 1830), a diplomatist and the son of an Armenian merchant settled in Constantinople, and his wife, ...

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William Harrison Ainsworth (1805–1882) by Daniel Maclise, c. 1834 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Ainsworth, William Harrison (1805–1882), novelist, was born on 4 February 1805 at 21 King Street, Manchester, the elder of two sons of Thomas Ainsworth (1778–1824), a solicitor, and his wife, Ann (1778–1842), daughter of the Revd Ralph Harrison (1748–1810), a nonconformist minister and tutor of languages and literature at the ...

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William Alexander (1826–1894) by Sir George Reid Scottish National Portrait Gallery

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Alexander, William (1826–1894), novelist and journalist, was born on 12 June 1826 at the farm of Westerhouses, Rescivet, in the parish of Chapel of Garioch, Aberdeenshire. He was the eldest son of the ten children of James Alexander (1789–1856), blacksmith and tenant farmer, and his wife, ...

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Allan, John Robertson (1906–1986), novelist and journalist, was born on 4 September 1906 at Auchnashag, Udny, Aberdeenshire, the son of Eliza Jane Allan, a domestic servant. Allan was brought up on his grandfather's farm, Bodachra, near Aberdeen. He attended Robert Gordon's College and the ...

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Allbeury, Theodore Edward Le Bouthillier [Ted] (1917–2005), intelligence officer and novelist, was born on 24 October 1917 at 478 Manchester Road, Stockport, Lancashire, the son of Theodore Allbeury, cotton goods buyer, and his wife, Florence, née Bailey. He had one sister. His father died when ...

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(Charles) Grant Blairfindie Allen (1848–1899) by Sir William Rothenstein, 1897 © Estate of Sir William Rothenstein / National Portrait Gallery, London

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Allen, (Charles) Grant Blairfindie (1848–1899), writer on science and novelist, was born at Alwington, near Kingston, Ontario, Canada, on 24 February 1848, the second but only surviving son of Joseph Antisell Allen (1814–1900), a clergyman of the Church of Ireland who had emigrated to ...

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Allen, Walter Ernest (1911–1995), novelist and literary scholar, was born on 23 February 1911 at Aston, Birmingham, the youngest of the four children, all sons, of Charles Henry Allen (fl. 1870–1950), silversmith's designer, and his wife, Annie Maria Thomas. His father's family came from the ...

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Amory, Thomas (1690/91–1788), novelist, was according to his son, Dr Robert Amory, the son of Counsellor Amory who, accompanying William III to Ireland, was made secretary for the forfeited estates, and possessed 'very considerable property' in co. Clare (GM, 58.1062, 59.322...

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Mulk Raj Anand (1905–2004) by Howard Coster, 1930s © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Anand, Mulk Raj (1905–2004), author, was born in the city of Peshawar, North-West Frontier Province, India, on 12 December 1905, a kshatriya (warrior) by caste. His immediate ancestors were coppersmiths and silversmiths, though his father, Lal Chand, had broken away to become a clerk in the ...

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Arlen, Michael [formerly Dikran Kouyoumdjian] (1895–1956), novelist, was born on 16 November 1895 at Rustchuk, Bulgaria, the son of Sarkis Kouyoumdjian, an Armenian merchant. He was educated at Malvern College (along with an elder brother), and briefly studied medicine at the ...

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Armstrong, Martin Donisthorpe (1882–1974), poet and novelist, was born at 2 Jesmond Gardens, Newcastle upon Tyne, on 2 October 1882, the son of Charles Francis Armstrong, architect, of Brisco Hill, Carlisle, Cumberland, and his wife, Edith Lucy, née Donisthorpe. He came from a well-to-do family and enjoyed a comfortable childhood, the memories of which he later recounted in his autobiographical novel, ...

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Arnold, William Delafield (1828–1859), army officer and novelist, was born at Laleham, Middlesex, on 7 April 1828, the fourth son of Thomas Arnold (1795–1842), headmaster of Rugby School, and his wife, Mary (1791–1873), daughter of the Revd John Penrose. He was educated at ...

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Bage, Robert (1728?–1801), businessman and novelist, was born at Darley, near Derby, on 29 February 1728, according to his lifelong friend William Hutton (W. Hutton, 478), although Bage wrote to Hutton on 11 March 1800 declaring, 'This day I am 70...

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A. B. Grosart

revised by Sayoni Basu

Balfour, Alexander (1767–1829), novelist, was born in the parish of Monikie, Forfarshire, Scotland, and was baptized on 1 March 1767 which was possibly also the date of his birth. He was the son of William Balfour and his wife, Ann, née Honyman. Being a twin, and physically weak, he was cared for by a relative. His education was scanty, and he was early apprenticed to a weaver. Nevertheless, ...