|Author: Ambrose Bierce|
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Perhaps best known for his dark definitions in THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY, Ambrose Bierce was the 10th of 13 children born to a poor family of farmers in Ohio. He spent his childhood in Indiana as his parents struggled with their finances. As a young boy, Bierce entered the Kentucky Military Institute, and went on to fight in several Civil War battles. Bierce's father was well-read and had a small library; Ambrose enjoyed reading classic texts like THE ILIAD, and he also worked at an anti-slavery newspaper. After his military engagements and travels, Bierce went to San Francisco, where he began writing and publishing his poems, essays, sketches, and stories. From 1872 to 1875, Bierce and his wife Mollie Day lived in England, where he wrote satirical pieces. He eventually returned to the U.S., where he wrote fiction as well as his newspaper columns for William Randolph Hearst's San Francisco Examiner. His best-known short stories are marked by Gothic elements and dark humor, and many stem from his wartime experiences. In 1913, when he was past 70, Bierce crossed the Mexican border, purportedly in search of Pancho Villa. By the following year he had disappeared without a trace. The mystery of his death has never been solved.