Bierce, Ambrose, 1842-1914?

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1842-06-24
Death 1914
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

Ambrose Bierce was born in Horse Cave Creek, Ohio, on June 24, 1842. After military service in the Civil War, he settled in San Francisco, where he met Mark Twain and became a columnist and writer. Bierce became known for his sharp, sarcastic wit while writing for the "Argonaut," the "Wasp," and the "San Francisco Examiner." A member of the Bohemian Club, he became acquainted with many of the prominent San Francisco authors. After his retirement Bierce traveled into Texas and toward Mexico, at a time when Pancho Villa and other Mexican revolutionaries were active. After a final correspondence dated December 26, 1913, nothing is known of Bierce's fate.

From the description of Ambrose Bierce letters, 1892-1911. (California State Library). WorldCat record id: 213332405

Author, critic, editor, and journalist, Ambrose Bierce is a unique and complex figure in American literary history. Born and raised in the midwest, he served with distinction in the Civil War, winding up in California. Witty, imaginative, and darkly cyncial in his outlook, he was a generous mentor to young writers. Perhaps best remembered for a series of macabre short stories and the fiercely satirical The Devil's dictionary, Bierce disappeared into the chaos of the Mexican Civil War and was never heard from again.

From the description of Ambrose Bierce letter to Adolphe Danziger, 1900 Nov. 11. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 52999894

American writer.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : to T. Giles, 1875 Jan. 20. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270125238

Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce (1842-1914?) was an American author and satirist best remembered for his cynical collection of definitions known as The Devil's Dictionary. Bierce also penned numerous short stories, often with supernatural themes ("The Damned Thing"), Civil War theme ("A Horseman in the Sky"), or a little of both ("An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge"). Bierce's experience as a soldier no doubt influenced his writing, and he performed excellent service for the majority of the Civil War. After receiving a medical discharge in January 1865 for a head wound suffered during combat, Bierce began contributing essays and stories to California newspapers. William Randolph Hearst hired Bierce to write for the San Francisco Examiner in 1887, and Bierce gained notoriety thanks to his brutally cynical columns and editorials. After spending three years editing his Collected Works, Bierce traveled to Mexico to cover the rebellion of Pancho Villa. In 1914, shortly after arriving in Mexico, Bierce vanished without a trace. The circumstances surrounding his disappearance have remained a mystery.

From the description of Ambrose Bierce Correspondence File, 1871-1913. (Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens). WorldCat record id: 748678482

American journalist and short story writer.

From the description of Letters to Harriet Hershberg [manuscript], 1896-1903. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647823581

From the description of Seated three-quarter length portrait of Ambrose Bierce holding a folded newspaper, 1902, Aug. 20. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 754864249

Ambrose Gwinett Bierce, born 1842 in Ohio, wrote for various English periodicals and after returning to the United States, became editor of the San Francisco Argonaut. Bierce was an author of several works and journalist for the San Francisco Examiner. He disappeared on a trip in 1913 and was assumed dead in 1914.

From the description of Ambrose Bierce papers, 1872-1913. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122500027

American journalist and author, Ambrose Bierce worked for the San Francisco Examiner as editor and columnist.

From the description of Ambrose Bierce Letters. 1897-1899 (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 11087585

Bierce was an American author.

From the description of Letters, an envelope, and a portrait, 1895-1912. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 83674587

American author.

From the description of Letter to Elbert Hubbard [manuscript], 1899 January 19. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647845303

From the description of Letters of Ambrose Bierce [manuscript], 1911-1912. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647829407

From the description of Letter to Belle Hershberg [manuscript], 1898. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647845590

From the description of Letters of Ambrose Bierce [manuscript], 1899-1909. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647833295

Author.

From the description of Ambrose Bierce papers, 1871-1905. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 79452040

Ambrose Bierce was born June 24, 1842 in Ohio; journalist, satirist, and author of sardonic short stories based on themes of death and horror; principal works include Tales of soldiers and civilians (1891), later reissued as In the midst of life (1892), Black beetles in amber (1892), Can such things be? (1893), and The cynic's word book (1906); The cynic's word book was later retitled The devil's dictionary (1911); his death in Mexico, in 1914, remains an unsolved mystery.

Carey McWilliams was born Dec. 13, 1905 in Steamboat Springs, CO; J.D., Univ. of Southern CA; attorney, Black, Hammack & McWilliams, Los Angeles, 1927-38; contributing editor, assoc. editor, and editorial director, The nation, 1945-55; editor, The nation, 1955-75; some of his books include: Ambrose Bierce, a biography (1929), Factories in the field : the story of migratory farm labor in California (1939), Ill fares the land : migrants and migratory labor in the United States (1942), Brothers under the skin (1943), California country : an island on the land (1946), A mask for privilege : anti-semitism in America (1948), and The education of Carey McWilliams (1979); died of cancer, June 27, 1980 in New York, NY.

From the description of Collection of material about Ambrose Bierce, 1909-1935. (University of California, Los Angeles). WorldCat record id: 38273182

BIOGRAPHY

Ambrose Gwinett Bierce was born in Meigs County, Ohio on June 24, 1842, the son of Marcus Aurelius and Laura Sherwood Bierce. Little is known of his childhood; he became a printer's apprentice in Kosciusko County, Indiana, before entering the Kentucky Military Institute in 1859.

Shortly before entering the Union Army after the outbreak of the Civil War, Bierce was a laborer and waiter in Elkhart, Indiana. In the war, he served with the 9th Regiment of Indiana Volunteers. Bierce progressed in rank from private to lieutenant and became the acting typographical engineer on Gen. W. B. Hazen's staff. At the battle of Kenesaw Mountain, Bierce sustained a near-fatal head wound from which it took months to recover.

Following the war, Bierce became an aid to Treasury Department agents collecting abandoned Southern property. He joined Hazen's surveying expedition to the Far West in 1866 and stayed on in San Francisco working for the U. S. Mint.

In San Francisco Bierce began to pursue his literary interests. In 1868, he succeeded his friend James T. Watkins as the editor of News-Letter. Bierce married Mary Ellen Day on Christmas Day, 1871, and eventually had three children, Day, Leigh, and Helen.

From 1872-74, Bierce was in England writing for Tom Hood's Fun and James Mortimer's Figaro. He returned to San Francisco in September of 1875. He edited several magazines for the next years, including Argonaut and the Wasp; he also wrote his "Prattle" and The Dance of Death.

Bierce became a columnist for the San Francisco Examiner in 1887 but continued to produce his own books and stories. He was sent in 1896 by the Examiner to Washington, D.C. to cover the Railroad Funding Bill controversy. He stayed on in Washington as a political reporter for many years, also publishing his own literary work.

In late 1913, Bierce took a trip through the Southwest into Mexico where he mysteriously disappeared.

From the guide to the Ambrose Bierce Papers, 1872-1913, (Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.)

Biographical Note

Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce (1842-1914?) was an American author an satirist best remembered for his cynical collection of definitions known as The Devil's Dictionary, as well as numerous short stories. After a medical discharge from the military, Bierce was hired by William Randolph Hearst to write newspaper columns and editorials. Bierce traveled to Mexico to cover the rebellion of Pancho Villa, and disappeared in 1914..

From the guide to the Ambrose Bierce Correspondence File, 1871-1913, (The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens Manuscripts Department)

Biography

Ambrose Bierce was born June 24, 1842 in Ohio; journalist, satirist, and author of sardonic short stories based on themes of death and horror; principal works include Tales of Soldiers and Civilians (1891), later reissued as In the Midst of Life (1892), Black Beetles in Amber (1892), Can Such Things Be? (1893), and The Cynic's Word Book (1906); The Cynic's Word Book was later retitled The Devil's Dictionary (1911); his death in Mexico, in 1914, remains an unsolved mystery.

Carey McWilliams was born December 13, 1905 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado; J.D., University of Southern California; attorney, Black, Hammack & McWilliams, Los Angeles, 1927-38; contributing editor, associate editor, and editorial director, The Nation, 1945-55; editor, The Nation, 1955-75; some of his books include: Ambrose Bierce, a Biography (1929), Factories in the Field: the Story of Migratory Farm Labor in California (1939), Ill Fares the Land: Migrants and Migratory Labor in the United States (1942), Brothers Under The Skin (1943), California Country: An Island on the Land (1946), A Mask for Privilege: Anti-Semitism in America (1948), and The Education of Carey McWilliams (1979); died of cancer, June 27, 1980 in New York, New York.

From the guide to the Carey McWilliams collection of material about Ambrose Bierce, 1909-1935, (University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Department of Special Collections.)

Biographical Information

Ambrose Bierce, born June 24, 1842 in Meigs County, Ohio, was an American author best known for his satire and supernatural stories. Many of his stories also came from his experiences serving in the Union Army during the American Civil War.

After the war, Bierce moved to San Francisco, where he worked on several publications including Overland Monthly, the San Francisco Argonaut, the Wasp, and the San Francisco Examiner . In 1896, he moved to Washington, D.C. where he lobbied for William Randolph Hearst while still contributing to many newspapers and magazines.

Bierce married Mollie Day, a wealthy miner's daughter, in 1871, and they had two sons, Day and Leigh, and a daughter, Helen. The couple separated in 1888, then divorced in 1905.

Late in 1913, Ambrose Bierce joined Pancho Villa in the Mexican Revolution, where all trace of Bierce was lost. It is believed that Bierce probably died in the battle of Ojinaya on January 11, 1914.

From the guide to the Collection of Ambrose Bierce papers, 1875-1925, bulk 1890-1913, (The Bancroft Library)

Ambrose Bierce

An American editor, journalist, poet, satirist and writer, Ambrose Bierce was born in Meigs County, Ohio in 1842. He enlisted in Company C of the 9th Regiment, Indiana Volunteers in April of 1861 shortly after the outbreak of the American Civil War. The general experiences of war, while also seeing action in such historical battles as Chickamauga, Kennesaw Mountain, and Shiloh, aided in forming the basis for several of his now famous short stories ("Chickamauga" and "An Occurance at Owl Creek Bridge") after the conclusion of the war in 1865.

Following a westward bound military expedition as an engineering attache, Bierce eventually settled in San Francisco in 1866. By 1868, he had been honorably discharged from the military and began contributing and editing material for a number of local newspapers and periodicals, gaining a reputation and the nickname "Bitter Bierce" for his wicked wit and humor.

Bierce married Marie Ellen ("Mollie") Day in 1871. Together they had three children: Day (1872), Leigh (1874), and Helen (1875). In 1888, Bierce separated from his wife, Mollie, after seventeen years of marriage when he found revealing letters written to her from a European admirer. To make matters worse for Bierce, in 1889, his son, Day, became involved in a love triangle that resulted in him shooting and killing his rival before turning the gun on himself. In 1901, Bierce buried his second son, Leigh, after he passed away from pneumonia as a result of alcohol abuse.

Bierce would spend much of the rest of his life gainfully employed (with a career often steeped in controversy) writing for the various newspapers owned by William Randolph Hearst and publishing numerous books and short stories. A biting social critic, he was also well known for his encouragement of younger artists and writers such as Herman George Scheffauer, George Sterling, and Elizbeth (Lily) and Myles Walsh.

In 1913, at the age of 71, Bierce crossed over the Mexican border from Texas and disappeared without a trace. His disappearance remains a great mystery and one of the most famous in literary history.

Elizabeth (Lily) Walsh

Elizabeth (Lily) Walsh was born in 1872 in London, England. A deaf-mute girl, Lily initially caught the attention of Ambrose Bierce with her poetry and would later become his protege. Lily was sent to the Dr. Warring Wilkinson's school for the deaf (California Institution for the Deaf and the Blind) in Berkeley, California as a result of her condition and health. While at the school she was was cared for by Dr. C.W. Doyle and Harriet Hershberg (both individuals referenced throughout the "Bierce-Walsh" correspondence.) She died in October of 1895 and was laid to rest at Saint Marys Cemetery in Oakland, Alameda County, California.

Myles Walsh

Myles Walsh was born on November 15, 1874 in London, England. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1890 and married Louis Phinney Newman on June 30, 1903. Together the couple had four children (the first born, Lydia, is briefly mentioned in Letter #50). A college graduate, Myles chose the profession of accountant, working for such companies as the Casualty Company of America and the Niagara Fire Insurance Company. He died at the age of 93 on February 5, 1968 in Westwood, New Jersey.

From the guide to the Letters of Ambrose Bierce to Myles Walsh, 1895-1911, (University of Cincinnati, Archives and Rare Books Library)

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Subjects:

  • Publishers and publishing--United States--Archives
  • Publishers and publishing--United States
  • Asthmatics
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  • Authors, American--Mansucripts
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  • Authors, American--Archival resources
  • Publishers and publishing--20th century
  • Satirists--Correspondence
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  • Fourth of July celebrations
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  • Authors and publishers--20th century
  • Journalists--United States
  • Authors, American--Correspondence
  • Women authors
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  • Authors, American--19th century--Correspondence
  • Authors, American--Manuscripts

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  • Authors, American--Archival resources

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