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Biography

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Overview (3)

Born in Brooklyn, New York, USA
Died in New York City, New York, USA  (following abdominal surgery)
Birth NameRobert William Chambers

Mini Bio (1)

Robert William Chambers, one of the more prolific and popular American authors of late nineteenth and early twentieth century, was born on 26 May, 1865 in Brooklyn to a prominent New York family.

Chambers spent his younger years at the Brooklyn Polytechnic School,after which he attended the Art Student League, in New York. Chambers studied art at The Académie Julian in Paris. He also spent a summer studying and writing at the University of Munich. It is during this time that he penned his first novel, In the Quarter. Once he left Munich he returned to art school but did so at L'Ecole des Beaux Arts. By the time he was in his mid-twenties Chambers was already exhibiting his art at salons in Paris. Returning to America in 1892, Chambers soon began drawing illustrations for magazines like Vogue, Life and True. It was during this period that Chambers and his friend, Charles Dana Gibson, submitted sketches they had drawn of each other to Life magazine. Chambers' sketch of Gibson was published, Gibson's sketch was rejected. Gibson would get the last laugh though, when after becoming successful he purchased Life magazine. In 1912 Gibson provided the illustrations in Chambers' book "Blue-Bird Weather".

Chambers originally began submitting articles, accompanied with his illustrations, to magazines and newspapers before concentrating on writing full time. Over the next forty years or so, he would publish 72 novels, numerous short stories and several plays. Chambers' early writings would cover such diverse subject matters as the supernatural and historical romances. A heavy taskmaster, Chambers would often work on three or four projects at a time. His early work won him high praise from literary critics, but as he became more successful, the critics grew more critical. His opinion of critics nosedived after one reviewer said of his mystic collection of short stories, "The King in Yellow", "a splendid success of horror, which haunts the memory of all who have read it", and another had suggested the book was written under the influence of drugs.

A man of varied interests, Chambers was a historian, artist, outdoors man, collector of rare furniture and fine art, expert on Chinese and Japanese antiquities, collector of North American butterflies and a conservationist. Chambers was once responsible for the planting of around 25,000 trees in Broadalbin, New York.

Chambers, who was a direct descendant of Roger Williams, the founder of Providence, Rhode Island, wrote a number of historical novels, usually set in Colonial America or the Revolutionary and Civil War periods. His interest in the legendary Captain Kidd led him to write a rather sympathetic treatment of Kidd's life entitled, "The Man They Hung".

A small example of additional works by Chambers that were popular with the public are: "The Red Republic," "A King and a Few Dukes," "The Maker of Moons," "With the Band," "The Mystery of Choice," "Lorraine," "Ashes of Empire," "The Maid-at-Arms," "Outdoor Land," "The Maids of Paradise," "Orchard-Land," "Forest-Land," "The Haunts of Men," "The Cambric Mask," "Cardigan", "The Fighting Chance", "The Firing Line", "Iole", "The Witch of Ellangowan" and "Ailsa Paige". His popularity was such that during his lifetime first edition copies of his books were wildly treasured among book collectors.

Robert William Chambers died in New York City on 16 December, 1933 after an unsuccessful operation to alleviate an intestinal disorder. He was survived by his wife, the former Elsa Vaughn Moller (1882-1939), a son, author Robert Edward Stuart Chambers (a.k.a. Robert Husted Chambers) and a brother, renowned architect Walter Boughton Chambers (1866-1945).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: John F. Barlow

Family (1)

Spouse Elsa Vaughn Moller (1898 - 1933)  (his death)  (1 child)

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