Ambrose Bierce


Easton Press Ambrose Bierce books

The Monk and the Hangman's Daughter - (co-authored) 1985
Tales of Soldiers and Civilians - Horror Classics - 2006
The Devil's Dictionary - 2007

Franklin Library Ambrose Bierce books

In the Midst of Life & Tales of Soldiers and Civilians - Collected Stories of the World's Greatest Writers -1979
The Devil's Dictionary - 100 Greatest Masterpieces of American Literature - 1980

Ambrose Bierce biography

Ambrose Bierce, born on June 24, 1842, in Meigs County, Ohio, emerged as a formidable self-educated American writer, journalist, and satirist. His early years were indelibly shaped by a keen intellect and a profound love for literature. As the Civil War swept across the nation, Bierce enlisted in the Union Army, engaging in significant battles such as the notorious Battle of Shiloh. The war became a crucible that would profoundly influence his later writings. Post-Civil War, Bierce transitioned into journalism, where he honed a distinctive voice marked by acerbic wit and unapologetic candor. His columns, often under the pseudonym "Devil's Dictionary," served as a platform for his incisive commentary on contemporary issues, revealing the hypocrisy and absurdity inherent in societal norms.

In 1872 Ambrose Bierce went to London, where he contributed ironic fables to the periodical Fun; these and several other works, notable for their sardonic, cynical wit, won him the nickname "Bitter Bierce". Returning to the U.S. in 1876, he contributed to the periodical Overland Monthly and for many years to the "Prattler Columns" of the newspaper San Francisco Examiner. Ambrose Bierce edited the periodicals Argonaut and The Wasp in California from 1877 to 1884. In 1913, at the age of seventy-one, Ambrose Bierce went to Mexico and disappeared soon afterward.


Ambrose Bierce short stories

Bierce's literary contributions, particularly his short stories, showcased a masterful command of narrative. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, a haunting exploration of time and consciousness, remains a celebrated work in American literature. His stories, characterized by a blend of horror and psychological depth, demonstrated a keen understanding of the human condition. In the realm of satire, Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary stands as a hallmark of biting humor and social critique. This collection of satirical definitions dissected everyday language, laying bare the incongruities that often go unnoticed.


Chickamauga is a short story written by Ambrose Bierce, an American journalist, satirist, and short story writer. The story was first published in 1889. It is set during the American Civil War and is named after the Battle of Chickamauga, which took place in 1863. In Chickamauga, Bierce tells the story of a young boy who wanders into the woods near his home, experiences the horrors of war, and ultimately witnesses the aftermath of a battle. The narrative is notable for its exploration of the impact of war on innocence and the stark contrast between the child's perception of the world and the grim reality of the battlefield. The story is known for its powerful and disturbing imagery, as well as its commentary on the dehumanizing effects of war. Like many of Bierce's works, Chickamauga reflects his experiences as a Civil War veteran and his critical perspective on the nature of conflict and its consequences.

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge is another famous short story by Ambrose Bierce. It was first published in 1890. The story is set during the American Civil War and revolves around the theme of time perception, illusion, and the impact of war. The narrative follows Peyton Farquhar, a Southern plantation owner who is about to be hanged by Union soldiers for attempting to sabotage a railroad bridge. As Farquhar stands on the edge of Owl Creek Bridge awaiting his execution, the story takes a surreal turn, and the protagonist experiences a series of vivid and distorted events. The story challenges the boundaries between reality and illusion, creating a sense of psychological tension. Bierce's An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge is often praised for its innovative narrative structure and its exploration of the human mind under extreme circumstances. It has become a classic example of American short fiction and is frequently anthologized in literature collections. The story was also adapted into a famous episode of the television series The Twilight Zone in 1964.

The latter part of Bierce's life took a mysterious turn. In 1913, at the age of 71, he embarked on a journey to Mexico amid the Mexican Revolution. His declaration to witness the tumultuous events unfolded against a backdrop of uncertainty, and in 1914, Ambrose Bierce vanished without a trace. The circumstances surrounding his disappearance remain a source of speculation and intrigue, adding an enigmatic layer to his persona. Ambrose Bierce's legacy endures through the impact of his words. His fearless approach to addressing societal issues, coupled with his razor-sharp wit, has influenced generations of writers. Beyond the literary realm, the mystery surrounding his disappearance adds an enigmatic dimension to his enduring legacy in American literature.

To which literary movement did Ambrose Bierce belong?

Ambrose Bierce is often associated with the literary movement known as Realism. Realism emerged in the late 19th century as a reaction against Romanticism. It sought to portray everyday life and people with a focus on accuracy and fidelity to actual experience. Realist writers aimed to depict the world as it is, without idealization or romantic embellishment.

Ambrose Bierce's works, such as his short stories and journalistic writings, often exhibit the characteristics of Realism. His writing style and themes align with the movement's emphasis on portraying the harsh realities of human existence, often using a sharp and cynical wit. Bierce is perhaps best known for his distinctive narrative style and his stories that explore the darker aspects of human nature.


The Devil's Dictionary

The Devil's Dictionary is a satirical dictionary written by American Civil War soldier, journalist, and writer Ambrose Bierce consisting of common words followed by humorous and satirical definitions.
The lexicon was written over three decades as a series of installments for magazines and newspapers. Bierce's witty definitions were imitated and plagiarized for years before he gathered them into books, first as The Cynic's Word Book in 1906 and then in a more complete version as The Devil's Dictionary in 1911.
The Devil's Dictionary was begun in a weekly paper in 1881, and was continued in a desultory way at long intervals until 1906. In that year a large part of it was published in covers with the title The Cynic's Word Book, a name which the author had not the power to reject or happiness to approve.

The Monk and the Hangman's Daughter

On arriving at a rural monastery, the monk Ambrosius meets a young girl, Benedicta. She is shunned by the local community for being the daughter of the local hangman, but Ambrosius is drawn into a dangerous sympathy with her, and in defiance of the community and his superiors, he starts spending time alone with her. But when her virtue is corrupted by an impetuous young man, the stage is set for a battle between heart, mind, body, spirit, the sins of the past, and redemption. Allegedly a rewriting from a lost German original, Ambrose Bierce's 1892 novel reads as a seamless, almost folktale-like masterpiece.

Tales of Soldiers and Civilians and Other Stories

Questing after Pancho Villa’s revolutionary forces, Ambrose Bierce rode into Mexico in 1913 and was never seen again. He left behind him theDevil’s Dictionary and a remarkable body of short fiction. This new collection gathers some of Bierce’s finest stories, including the celebrated Civil War fictions ‘An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge‘ and ‘Chickamauga‘, his macabre masterpieces "The Damned Thing" and "Moxon's Master", and his hilariously horrific "Oil of Dog" and "My Favorite Murder".
Stories included as follows.


A Horseman in the Sky
An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
A Son of the Gods
One of the Missing
Killed at Resaca
The Affair at Coulter’s Notch
The Coup de Grâce
Parker Adderson, Philosopher
An Affair of Outposts
The Story of a Conscience
One Kind of Officer
The Mocking-Bird


The Man Out of the Nose
The Man and the Snake
The Boarded Window
From Can Such Things Be?
Can Such Things Be?:
Moxon’s Master
A Tough Tussle
A Resumed Identity
The Night-Doings at “Deadman’s”
The Realm of the Unreal
The Damned Thing
Haïta the Shepherd

The Ways of Ghosts:
Present at a Hanging
A Wireless Message

Soldier Folk

Three and One Are One
From Negligible Tales
Negligible Tales:
A Bottomless Grave
Jupiter Doke, Brigadier-General
The City of the Gone Away
The Major’s Tale
Curried Cow
A Revolt of the Gods

The Parenticide Club

My Favorite Murder
Oil of Dog
From Antepenultimata
A Bivouac of the Dead
From The Opinionator
The Controversialist:
The Short Story

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