Born in New York in 1937, I grew up in the Bronx and Brooklyn, attended Brooklyn College, and got advanced degrees from Columbia University. New York streets, street games, public schools, museums, movies, libraries, and parks provided sustenance and spaces and friends. An Ashkenazi middle-class Jewish family, with Yiddish vaguely in the background and Hebrew School, though Hebrew in the ordinary sense was not the subject, was the home anchor. I learned a lot, but there was much rebellion – slammed doors, intellectual arguments. and romantic poses, all of them deeply felt. There were also the ordinary youthful adventures. And, from early adolescence, the desire and the attempt to write poetry and fiction, to be a combination of Shakespeare and James Joyce whose “non serviam” and totemic ash-plant became defining assets. In 1959, I married. We had met in college, studied Greek together, and then became graduate students. Our three children turned out to be wonderful. But they needed to be supported, money to be earned, a vocation to be attained – graduate school and college teaching seemed the inevitable way to pay the bills and still be literary, with a number of novels that were never to be published (but two of which came close) in the early years. To be, like Henry James, “just literary” was out of the question. And the marriage had a mixed, sometimes painful, sometimes happy, twenty plus year run, followed in 1993 by a remarriage that flourished in a lovely wood and glass house in Boothbay, Maine. From New York, to Wisconsin, to California, then back to New York, an academic career took shape – eventually to become a Distinguished Professor at the City University of New York and the author of biographies of Carlyle, Dickens, Henry James, Gore Vidal, Mark Twain, Lincoln, John Quincy Adams, and His Masterly Pen: A Biography of Jefferson the Writer. scheduled for fall 2020 publication. The book is dedicated to Rhoda Ackerson Weyr, 1937-2021. An early riser, his long mornings are still devoted to writing, afternoons, for three seasons of the year, to his garden and his toy poodle, Chai. We write and plant for the future Adams and Jefferson believed. As gardeners & writers we live & create in the present.