Ambrose Bierce: An Annotated Bibliography of Primary Sources

Ambrose Bierce: An Annotated Bibliography of Primary Sources

Ambrose Bierce: An Annotated Bibliography of Primary Sources

Ambrose Bierce: An Annotated Bibliography of Primary Sources

Synopsis

Ambrose Bierce is well known to readers as a master of the short story and the author of The Devil's Dictionary (1906). But, in his own day, Bierce was best known as a prolific and fearless journalist who wrote thousands of articles for newspapers and magazines during a 40 year career. This bibliography is the first to attempt an exhaustive catalog of Bierce's entire body of published work. Included are chapters for separate publications by Bierce, such as books; his numerous contributions to magazines, newspapers, and collections; reprints of his works; and manuscript holdings. Entries for individual items appear in each chapter, and access is facilitated through title, name, and periodical indexes.

Excerpt

It is not surprising that no bibliography of the published writings of Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce (1842-1914?) has been compiled since 1935, when Joseph Gaer, working under the aegis of the WPA, produced a thin mimeographed volume, meagerly supplementing the 1929 bibliography of Vincent Starrett. Neither Gaer nor Starrett even attempted a comprehensive listing of Bierce's contributions to newspapers, perhaps because the task seemed so immense, perhaps also because they -- as many others before and since -- believed that Bierce Collected Works (1909-12) included the great bulk of his journalism. In fact, the twelve volumes of that edition contain less than one-fifth of Bierce's published work. The failure to catalogue Bierce's voluminous journalism has had numerous regrettable consequences and has hindered the proper understanding of Bierce and his work for nearly a century. While this bibliography does not claim absolute completeness, its exhaustive charting of Bierce's newspaper work may open new paths in scholarship, and help to establish Bierce as very likely the greatest journalist of his century.

Bierce's first exposure to journalism occurred as early as 1857, when he served not as a writer or editor but as a printer's apprentice for the Northern Indianan, an abolitionist newspaper. There is no suggestion that Bierce even considered a literary career until after he had fought, on the Union side, in some of the grisliest battles of the Civil War. After serving as a Treasury aide in the South and joining his erstwhile commander, General William B. Hazen, on an expedition to explore western forts, Bierce left the army in 1867 and settled in San Francisco, securing a job at the U.S. Branch Mint. His first published works were some poems and articles in the short-lived Californian in 1867.

The next year, as his biographers report, Bierce did some writing for the Golden Era (most noted for publishing the early work of Mark Twain and Bret Harte) and the San Francisco News Letter and California Advertiser, one of the dozen or so newspapers that had sprung up in San Francisco in the wake of the Gold Rush. Only two items have been located in the Golden Era, and one -- "The Tresses of the Fair Ladies" -- by "B.," may not be by Bierce. He appears to have written numerous unsigned or pseudonymous contributions to the News Letter during the spring, summer, and fall; those signed "Gwinnett" can be assumed to be Bierce's, but others -- as with a good proportion of his newspaper work -- can be assigned to . . .

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