Ambrose Gwinett Bierce was born in Horse Cave Creek
, on June 24th, 1842. A famous author
, Bierce's reputation
during his time as a fierce cynic
could make or break upcoming authors' career
s depending on his evaluation
of them. Often known by his initials, A. G. B., his own critics dubbed him "Almighty God Bierce
." Best known for his humorous work, The Devil's Dictionary
, "Bitter Bierce" also wrote many stories about the Civil War
, using his own experience
as an officer
fighting for the Union
Ambrose Bierce's works include:
After the war, Bierce moved to California, where he became one of the most popular critical authors along with such writers as Bret Harte and Mark Twain. He married the daughter of a wealthy miner, Mollie Day. He shipped out to England in 1872 for four years after the marriage. During this time he published three volumes of sketches and epigrams, The Fiend's Delight (1872), Nuggets and Dust Panned Out in California (1872), and Cobwebs from an Empty Skull (1874). Afterwards, he came back to California. There, he began to write for the San Francisco Examiner, which gained a new owner in 1887, the Harvard dropout William Randolph Hearst. His column, called "The Prattler", ran from 1887 until 1906.
In 1897, he moved to Washington to write for another Hearst newspaper, and there developed his ideas criticizing his society. As an editor, he wrote in defense of persecuted groups such as Jewish and Chinese people. His personal life was unsuccessful, to say the least. His oldest son committed suicide at sixteen, and his youngest son died from alcoholism at thirty.1
His marriage began to fall apart after the death of his oldest son, and Bierce started drinking; one of his most esteemed drinking partners was H.L. Mencken. He divorced in 1904, and after living in Washington until 1913, he dissappeared to Mexico to fight alongside the outlaw Pancho Villa. His fate is highly contested, and a popular story is that he got into an argument with Villa and was shot. More likely, he perished while fighting in the Battle of Ojinaga on January 11, 1914.
1 This fact is contested, both his age at the time, and some sources say it was pneumonia that was the cause of death.