Ambrose Bierce

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There are many authors throughout history whose influences and accomplishments have been overlooked. Ambrose Bierce is among them. Bierce, like Edgar Allan Poe before him, played an essential part in the development of the short story. He was also like Poe in that he was a master of "brevity in horror" (Kunitz 77). Although most people today only know of Bierce's fame as a short story writer because of stories like "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge", he was also known for his criticism and satire while he was alive.

Ambrose Gwinett Bierce was born in 1842 in Meigs County, Ohio. He was the tenth of thirteen children, and, according to Robert Wiggins, he "had no affection for any members of his family except Albert, his next older brother" (8). He enlisted in the Union army during the Civil War and became an officer. After the war, he moved to San Francisco, where he began his career in journalism (Wiggins 6-11).

In San Francisco, Bierce contributed to local papers and magazines until 1871, when he married and moved to London. While in London, he published his first three books under the pseudonym "Dod Grile." He later returned to San Francisco where he was a columnist and contributor for the San Francisco Examiner, owned by William Randolph Hearst. In 1896, Bierce moved to Washington, D.C., but still worked for Hearst. In 1913, Bierce retired from writing and began traveling. He was last heard from in late 1913 in Mexico as an observer to Pancho Villa's army during the Mexican Revolution. He is thought to have died soon afterward, probably in early 1914 (Wiggins 20-43).

One of the things that Bierce became known for early in his career was his satire. According to George Sterling, "he was as great a satirist as we have re...

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...generation as a satirist and his importance in the development of the short story have secured Ambrose Bierce a place in history.

Works Cited

Bierce, Ambrose. "Chickamauga." The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce. Ed. Ernest J. Hopkins. Nebraska: University of Nebraska Print, 1985. 313-19.

Bryfonski, Dedria, and Phyllis Carmel Mendelson, eds. Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1978.

Kunitz, Stanley J., and Howard Haycraft, eds. American Authors: 1600-1900. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1938.

Magill, Frank N., ed. Critical Survey of Short Fiction: Authors. Vol. 3. Salem: The Salem Press, 1981.

Nyren, Dorothy, ed. A Library of Literary Criticism: Modern American Literature. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1971.

Wiggins, Robert A. Ambrose Bierce. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1964.
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