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AMBROSE BIERCE

1842-1914
American

"Love: A temporary insanity curable by marriage."

Ambrose Bierce was born on 24th June 1842 in Meigs County, Ohio. He was the tenth of 13 children whose father gave all of them names beginning with the letter "A".

He grew up in Kosciusko County, Indiana, attending high school at the county seat, Warsaw. At the outset of the American Civil War, Bierce enlisted in the Union Army's 9th Indiana Infantry Regiment. He participated in the operations in Western Virginia campaign (1861), was present at the "first battle" at Philippi and received newspaper attention for his daring rescue, under fire, of a gravely wounded comrade at the Battle of Rich Mountain.In February 1862 he was commissioned First Lieutenant, and served on the staff of General William Babcock Hazen as a topographical engineer, making maps of likely battlefields. In June 1864, he sustained a serious head wound at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, and spent the rest of the summer on furlough, returning to active duty in September.

He was discharged from the army in January 1865. His military career resumed, however, when in mid-1866 he rejoined General Hazen as part of the latter's expedition to inspect military outposts across the Great Plains. The expedition proceeded by horseback and wagon from Omaha, Nebraska, arriving in San Francisco, California at the end of the year.

Bierce married Mary Ellen ("Mollie") Day on Christmas Day 1871. They had three children; two sons, Day (1872–1889) and Leigh (1874–1901), and a daughter, Helen (1875–1940). Both of Bierce's sons died before him: Day was shot in a brawl over a woman, and Leigh died of pneumonia related to alcoholism.

Bierce lived and wrote in England from 1872 to 1875, contributing to Fun magazine. His first book, The Fiend's Delight, a compilation of his articles, was published in London in 1873 by John Camden Hotten under the pseudonym "Dod Grile".

Returning to the United States, he again took up residence in San Francisco. From 1879 to 1880, he travelled to Rockerville and Deadwood in the Dakota Territory, to try his hand as local manager for a New York mining company, but when the company failed he returned to San Francisco and resumed his career in journalism. Bierce was considered a master of "Pure" English by his contemporaries, and virtually everything that came from his pen was notable for its judicious wording and economy of style. He wrote in a variety of literary genres.

His short stories are held among the best of the 19th century, providing a popular following based on his roots. He wrote realistically of the terrible things he had seen in the war in such stories as An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, The Boarded Window, Killed at Resaca, and Chickamauga, as well as, Terror By Night and other Classic Ghost and Horror Stories. Bierce is known to have accompanied Villa's army as far as the city of Chihuahua.

After a last letter to Blanche Partington, a close friend, dated December 26th 1913, he vanished without a trace, becoming one of the most famous disappearances in American literary history.

TITLES BY AMBROSE BIERCE

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