179 Biography

Ambrose Bierce was known for his short stories and poetry. He is often compared to Edgar Allen Poe for his attention to the darker side of things. His main focuses were on the civil war and the supernatural, with a major focus on death. He obtained the nickname “Bitter Bierce” for his inability to softening the truth. He was also known for his forthrightness within his work by writing about the hard to swallow truth. He would write what he felt no matter at whose expense.

Bierce was born on June 24, 1842, in Ohio. He was the tenth of thirteen children; their names all beginning with “A” due to their father’s request. His family later moved to Indiana when Bierce was in high school. He then went to the Kentucky Military Institute. At the start of the Civil war, he then joined the Union army. He fought in many military battles including the Shiloh, Chickamauga, and Sherman’s March to the Sea. Once the war was over Bierce traveled to San Francisco, this is when his literary career took off.

Some of Bierce’s first poetry and prose pieces were in the Californian and he became the editor for The News Letter. He was mainly known for his “Town Crier” column. He became one of the main literary figures around this time in California. He became friends with several other writers, including Mark Twain and Bret Harte.  He then moved to England with his wife where he got the name “Bitter Bierce” for what he wrote in Fun and Figaro magazine. He then returned to San Francisco where he wrote essays, epigrams, and short stories for the Argonaut and the Wasp. During this time, Bierce started writing his experiences during the Civil War.

Through his expression of war came one of his most recognizable pieces The Devil’s Dictionary (1906). In this Bierce expressed his views on many different human values and societal issues. Many people admired him, yet hated the genius behind his work. In 1914 he moved to Mexico as a means of changing his surroundings, but they never heard back from him once he went. They are not sure how his death came about.


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openamlitGU by Timothy Robbins is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.


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