Ryunosuke Akutagawa was a short-story writer, poet and essayist, and one of the first Japanese modernists translated into English. He was born in Tokyo in 1892, and began writing for student publications at the age of ten. He graduated from Tokyo University with an English Literature degree and worked as a teacher before becoming a full-time writer in 1919. His mother had suffered a mental breakdown shortly after his birth and he was plagued by fear of inherited insanity all his life. He killed himself in 1927.
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