Ambrose Bierce

Ambrose Bierce

Biography of Ambrose Bierce

Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce was an American journalist, writer, editorialist and poet. Best known today for his short story ‘An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge’ and his sardonic view of human nature, which strongly contributed to his nickname ’Bitter Bierce’. The style of writing owned by Bierce was distinctive; full of dark imagination, impossible events, vague references to time and a recurring theme of war.

The history of this poet is one that’s wide and varied, by any extent of the imagination. In the year 1913, Bierce decided to visit Mexico in order to gain first hand experience of the current revolution in the country at the time. It was then, whilst traveling with rebel troops, that he went missing without a trace.

Bierce was born, the tenth of thirteen children, in Meigs County, Ohio to his parents, Aurelius and Laura Bierce. His family were poor but literate which is what got them by. It was this that showed the importance of reading and writing to a young Bierce who soon grew a deep love for literature. At the age of 15 he left home to begin a writing career, becoming a ‘printer’s devil’ for a local newspaper.

Bierce enlisted in the Union Army’s 9th Infantry Regiment, at the outset of the American Civil war. He was a true fighter and even received media attention for daring rescues. After a turbulent army career, which included serious head injuries, fire rescues, and serving as a first Lieutenant, he was discharged in 1865. Fully in line with the phrase ‘enter a boy leave a man’, life would never be the same for Ambrose Bierce after the army and the horrors he witnessed were penned into some of his finest poems ever published.

Bierce went back to the military and proceeded by horseback through many states including Nebraska and Omaha to arrive in San Francisco, California. Five years after this in 1871, Bierce married his wife Mary Ellen and the couple went on to have three children; two of whom died before their Father, one of pneumonia relating to alcoholism and the other was shot. In 1904, Ambrose and Mary Ellen divorced, after it was rumoured his wife had been seeing another man.

Ambrose Bierce worked and lived all over the world as a journalist and poet, spending many years in both the UK and his native US. His work soon became regarded as some of the best literature of the 19th century. He wrote in a realistic manner, of the many terrible things he has witnessed during battles in some of his short stories such as ‘’The Boarded Window’’ and ‘’An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge’’. He turned his hand to many types of genre, from journalism and crime reports to short stories and poems – of which he published several volumes. His poems were in an ironic style of grotesquerie which were much more of a common genre of the times.

He has been widely considered a true American genius for his poetry which is still very much appreciated and loved today.

Short stories by Ambrose Bierce

  1. A Baby Tramp
  2. A Baffled Ambuscade
  3. A Bivouac of the Dead
  4. A Cold Greeting
  5. A Diagnosis of Death
  6. A Fruitless Assignment
  7. A Holy Terror
  8. A Horseman in the Sky
  9. A Jug Of Syrup
  10. A Lady From Redhorse
  11. A Little of Chickamauga
  12. A Man with Two Lives
  13. A Psychological Shipwreck
  14. A Resumed Identity
  15. A Son of the Gods
  16. A Tough Tussle
  17. A Vine on a House
  18. A Watcher by the Dead
  19. A Wireless Message
  20. An Adventure at Brownville
  21. An Affair of Outposts
  22. An Arrest
  23. An Heiress from Redhorse
  24. An Imperfect Conflagration
  25. An Inhabitant Of Carcosa
  26. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
  27. An Unfinished Race
  28. At Old Man Eckert's
  29. Beyond the Wall
  30. Charles Ashmore's Trail
  31. Chickamauga
  32. Four Days in Dixie
  33. George Thurston
  34. Haita The Shepherd
  35. Jo. Dunfer. Done for.
  36. John Bartine's Watch
  37. John Mortonson's Funeral
  38. Jupiter Doke, Brigadier-General
  39. Killed at Resaca
  40. Moxon's Master
  41. Music
  42. My Favourite Murder
  43. Oil of Dog
  44. On a Mountain
  45. One Kind of Officer
  46. One Of The Missing
  47. One Of Twins
  48. One Officer, One Man
  49. One Summer Night
  50. Parker Adderson, Philosopher
  51. Present at a Hanging
  52. Science to the Front
  53. Staley Fleming's Hallucination
  54. The Affair at Coulter's Notch
  55. The Boarded Window
  56. The Coup de Grace
  57. The Crime at Pickett's Mill
  58. The Damned Thing
  59. The Death Of Halpin Frayser
  60. The Difficulty of Crossing a Field
  61. The Dog and the Bees
  62. The Eyes of the Panther
  63. The Famous Gilson Request
  64. The Haunted Valley
  65. The Hypnotist
  66. The Isle of Pines
  67. The Man and the Snake
  68. The Man out of the Nose
  69. The Middle Toe of the Right Foot
  70. The Mockingbird
  71. The Moonlit Road
  72. The Night Doings At 'Deadman's'
  73. The Other Lodgers
  74. The Realm Of The Unreal
  75. The Secret Of Macarger's Gulch
  76. The Spook House
  77. The Story of a Conscience
  78. The Stranger
  79. The Suitable Surroundings
  80. The Thing at Nolan
  81. Three and One are One
  82. Two Military Executions
  83. What I Saw of Shiloh
  84. What Occurred at Franklin