H. L. Mencken
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|H. L. Mencken|
|Henry Louis Mencken|
|Birthplace||Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.|
Journalist, satirist, critic
Mencken, H. L.(Henry Louis Mencken) (mĕng`kən, mĕn`–), 1880–1956, American editor, author, and critic, b. Baltimore, studied at the Baltimore Polytechnic. Probably America's most influential journalist, he began his career on the Baltimore Morning Herald at the age of 18, became editor of the Baltimore Evening Herald, and from 1906 until his death was on the staff of the Baltimore Sun or Evening Sun. He also played a key role in the production of two extremely influential national magazines. From 1914 to 1923 he was coeditor of the Smart Set with George Jean NathanNathan, George Jean,
1882–1958, American editor and drama critic, b. Fort Wayne, Ind. He left the New York Herald to join H. L. Mencken in editing Smart Set (1914–23), which they made into a guide for the young American intellectual.
..... Click the link for more information. ; together they founded the American Mercury in 1924, and Mencken was its sole editor from 1925 to 1933.
Mencken's pungent, iconoclastic criticism and scathing invective, although aimed at all smugly complacent attitudes, was chiefly directed at what he saw as the ignorant, self-righteous, and overly credulous American middle class, members of which he dubbed Boobus americanus. His essays were collected in a series of six volumes, Prejudices (1919–27; repr. in 2 vol., 2010). In the field of philology he compiled a monumental and lively study, The American Language (1st ed. 1919; 4th ed. 1936; with supplements, 1946, 1948). Among his other works are George Bernard Shaw: His Plays (1905), In Defense of Women (1917), Treatise of the Gods (1930), and the autobiographical trilogy Happy Days, 1880–1892 (1940), Newspaper Days, 1899–1906 (1941), and Heathen Days, 1890–1936 (1943), collected in one volume in 1947. Mencken also fought against the strain of Puritanism in American literature and was an important literary champion of such writers as Theodore DreiserDreiser, Theodore
, 1871–1945, American novelist, b. Terre Haute, Ind. A pioneer of naturalism in American literature, Dreiser wrote novels reflecting his mechanistic view of life, a concept that held humanity as the victim of such ungovernable forces as economics,
..... Click the link for more information. , Sherwood AndersonAnderson, Sherwood,
1876–1941, American novelist and short-story writer, b. Camden, Ohio. After serving briefly in the Spanish-American War, he became a successful advertising man and later a manager of a paint factory in Elyria, Ohio.
..... Click the link for more information. , Sinclair LewisLewis, Sinclair,
1885–1951, American novelist, b. Sauk Centre, Minn., grad. Yale Univ., 1908. Probably the greatest satirist of his era, Lewis wrote novels that present a devastating picture of middle-class American life in the 1920s.
..... Click the link for more information. , and Eugene O'NeillO'Neill, Eugene (Gladstone),
1888–1953, American dramatist, b. New York City. He is widely acknowledged as America's greatest playwright. Early Life
O'Neill's father was James O'Neill, a popular actor noted for his portrayal of the Count of Monte Cristo.
..... Click the link for more information. . His keen interest in and intelligent appraisal of 20th-century American letters are evident in the essays collected in H. L. Mencken on American Literature (2002).
See his letters (ed. by G. L. Forgue, 1961) and diary (ed. by C. A. Fecher, 1990); biographies by W. Manchester (1950), C. Angoff (1956), S. Mayfield (1968), C. Bode (1969), F. C. Hobson, Jr. (1994), and T. Teachout (2002); studies by D. C. Stenerson (1971), F. C. Hobson, Jr. (1974), C. Scruggs (1984), and E. A. Martin (1984); A. Bulsterbaum, H. L. Mencken: A Research Guide (1988).