Ambrose Bierce (1842-c.1914)

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Ambrose Bierce ( June 24, 1842 - c.1914) was the author of twelve books, including fiction, nonfiction books, poetry, and short stories. He worked for the Northern Indianian, an abolitionist newspaper, for a year. He then joined the military for four years, serving in the Union Army during the Civil War, which gave him experiences on which some of his short stories are based. After the war, he returned to journalism. In 1868 he became editor of the News-Letter newspaper and wrote a column called “The Town Crier,” in which he used wit and satire to condemn some political figures. Bierce went on to write for the comedic magazine Fun as well as other publications such as Figaro and the London Sketch Book, and later became editor of the Argonaut, where he was known for his column “Prattle.” “Prattle” was continued in the Wasp and finally the San Francisco Examiner. Later, he wrote for Hearst’s Cosmopolitan. Bierce was known for picking on everyone with his ironically humorous remarks in his writing. He suffered from asthma and had to take various trips to spas, which took a toll on his marriage. He eventually separated with his wife and later suffered from the deaths of two of his children.

Bierce lived in DC from 1899 through 1913, the last 15 years of his known life. While in Washington, Bierce completed his Devil's Dictionary (1911) and his word usage compendium Write it Right (1909). He is perhaps best remembered for his short story, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." In October 1913, Bierce left DC for a tour of his old Civil War battlefields, then traveled to Mexico to observe Pancho Villa's army during the Mexican Revolution. His last letter (which was addressed to relatives) was dated December 1913. He was never heard from or seen again.

info from Beltway Poetry Quarterly: DC Writers’ Homes:

written by Word Works intern Monica Root, September 2013; edited by Kim Roberts, January 2016

back to Names of Poets--Living and Deceased

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