Ambrose Bierce Biography

by Marion Phillips - December 5, 2003

ambrose bierceBierce was one of the most important Gothic writers of the US and he can be considered the direct follower of Edgar A. Poe.

His works are always filled with sarcasm and an intelligent sense of humor and his horror stories are some of the best written, their realism being thier best quality.

A Sense Of Humor That Gives Shivers

Ambrose G. Bierce was born in a log cabin in Horse Cave Creek, US in 1842, the youngest of 9 children. His father was a poor farmer, and Bierce had only one year of formal education in the Kentucky Military Institute when he was 17 years old.

His main career was in the army and his first function was as a drummer boy in the 9th Indiana Infantry in the Civil War. Being wounded in battle in 1864, he went to live with one of his brothers in San Francisco and that was when he started to write.

Bierce was firstly an editor for the San Francisco News-Letter and for the California Advertiser, to which he worked from 1868 to 1872, and in time he started to write for his own column the "Town Crier". His popularity grew and he became a kind of literary dictator in California, with so much influence that he could help build or destroy the career of a new writer.

Ambrose Bierce was known especially for his dark sense of humor and he used to be called Almighty God Bierce (a joke with his initials A.G.B.) and Bitter Bierce.

His first story was published in a newspaper in 1871, and was called "The Haunted Valley", and several other stories were published through the years, as "In The Midst Of Life" and "Can Such Things Be?".

Ambrose Bierce married the daughter of a wealthy mine owner, and due to the money gift he gave the couple, they lived in London for 5 years. Back in California, his career in journalism improved when he went to work for the important newspaper San Francisco Examiner.

bierce book coverIn 1906, he published his most successful book, The Devil's Dictionary, and years later he supervised the publishing of a collection of twelve volumes of his writings called "Collected Works".

His life changed dramatically when his wife left him and especially after the death of his two sons, which made him lose the will to live.  

In 1914, when he was 71 years old, he decided to leave everything behind and get in the army again, this time to fight in the Mexican Revolution.

His end is uncertain and it''s not even sure if he really died in 1914. Some say he fought at the side of Pancho Villa and because of an argument he had with him, he was shot. 

Others say that he vanished in the desert or that he died in the battle of Ojinaga in January 1914.

Download Bierce's works now! (ZIP file size 206KB)


- The Devil's Dictionary,
- "Present At A Hanging" And Other Ghost Stories By Ambrose Bierce

If you want more information:

Ambrose Bierce

Ambrose Bierce Site

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Copyright 2003 Marion Phillips

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