H. L. Mencken - Editors, Birthday and Life

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H. L. Mencken's Personal Details

H

InformationDetail
BirthdaySeptember 12, 1880
Died onJanuary 29, 1956
NationalityAmerican
FamousAtheists, Media Personalities, Journalists, Editors, Newspaper Columnists
City/StateMaryland
SpousesSara Haardt
SiblingsAugust Mencken Jr.
Known asHenry Louis
Universities
  • Baltimore Polytechnic Institute
Birth PlaceBaltimore, Maryland, U.S.
ReligionAtheist
EpitaphsIf after I depart this vale you ever remember me and have thought to please my ghost, forgive some sinner, and wink your eye at some homely girl
GenderMale
FatherAugust Mencken Sr.
Sun SignVirgo
Born inBaltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Died at Age75

// Famous Atheists

H. L. Mencken's photo

Who is H. L. Mencken?

Mencken, known as the ‘Sage of Baltimore’ was a journalist, critic, satirist and editor and was the role model for renowned twentieth century writers like Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Sinclair Lewis, Eugene O’Neill and F. Scott. He was highly critical of the American way of life, culture and the weakness of American democracy. His master-piece, ‘The American Language’ that came out in multi-volume, traced the evolution of American English. The way Bernard Shaw was popular in England, Mencken was popular in America not only for his writings, but also for the influence he had over Harlem and Southern areas in awakening the literary genre. He was highly critical of the politicians, other journalists, chiropractors and the Ku Klux Klan. His criticism against Puritans was very severe. He attacked Puritanism as ‘the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy’. He was greatly impressed by the writings of German philosopher Nietzsche and French critic, Remy de Gourmont. Influenced by Nietzsche, he expressed his hatred for democracy and Christianity in his works like ‘Notes on Democracy’, ‘A Treatise on the Gods’ and ‘A Treatise on Right and Wrong’. When his journal, ‘The American Mercury’ was banned, Mencken raised his objection by demanding freedom of press and speech that resulted in his imprisonment. In his contempt for the American society, he was highly individualistic and outspoken. New York Times regarded his ‘caustic wit and bludgeon-like style’, which could either instill admiration or complete hatred, made him ‘the most powerful private citizen in America’.

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Childhood & Early Life

Henry Louis ‘H. L.’ Mencken was born to German-American parents - August Mencken, a cigar factory owner and Anna Abhau Mencken.

He completed his primary education at Professor Knapp's School. At the age of 16, he graduated from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute.

From 1896 to 1898, he worked in his father’s cigar factory. He disliked the job and left the factory. The same year, he enrolled for a correspondence course in writing from the Cosmopolitan University.

In 1899, shortly after his father’s death, he handed over the family business to his uncle and started pursuing his career in writing.

Career

He started his career with the ‘Baltimore Morning Herald’ in 1899 as its part-time reporter but soon rose to the position of editor.

In 1906, the ‘Herald’ ran out of business and was bought by Charles H. Grasty who launched The Baltimore Sun in 1910, where Mencken worked as a managing editor from 1911 to 1915.

Simultaneously, he started his career as a literary critic by editing satirical magazine like The Smart Set. He worked in the magazine from 1914-23.

In 1924, he partnered with Jean Nathan, the famous American drama critic and editor, and founded the magazine, ‘The American Mercury’ that was published by Alfred A. Knopf. He worked in it as an editor.

The magazine was widely popular in America. In 1933, he resigned from The American Mercury.

Mencken’s popularity fell down during the days of Great Depression, the economic downturn that lasted from 1929 to 1939 and due to his opposition against Franklin D. Roosevelt's “New Deal.”

However, he was able to regain his popularity with the publication of the fourth edition of his book ‘The American Language’ in 1936 and its Supplements that followed in 1945 and 1948.

In 1948, he entered the political scene by focusing on the presidential election of Harry S. Truman.

In 1948, he suffered from stroke from which he never recovered.

Major Works

The American Language published in 1919 was his masterpiece, where he traced the history and evolution of American vernacular speech. The book gained him much popularity in the field of philology with republication in 1936 andprovided with Supplements in 1946 and 1948.

Prejudices, appearing in six volumes and published in 1919 were the collection of his critical writing.

Happy Days (1940), Newspaper Days (1941), and Heathen Days (1943) are the three, autobiographical trilogy, where Mencken expressed his enchantment over his personal life.

Awards & Achievements

He was the recipient of Gold Medal for American Academy of Arts from Belles Lettres and Criticism for his humorous writings.

He is fondly remembered as the “Baltimore Sage” in recognition of his literary service.

Personal Life & Legacy

In 1923, while he went to deliver a lecture in Baltimore, he met Sara Haardt, a professor of English at Goucher College and fell in love with her. She was eighteen years junior to him.

Courtship between Sara and Mencken lasted for seven years and finally they got married in 1930.

Sara was ill with tuberculosis throughout their married life and in 1935, she succumbed to meningitis, leaving Mencken heavily grief-stricken.

Mencken collected her short stories and published them under the title Southern Album.

In 1948, he suffered severe stroke that totally ruined his writing career.

On January 29, 1956, he died of heart attack while he was asleep.

His home at 1524, Hollins Street was donated to the University of Maryland, after the death of his youngest brother, August in 1967.

In 1983, the house was acquired by the city of Baltimore and now it is maintained as part of the City Life Museum that is kept open on special occasions..

Trivia

This American critic and journalist was the founder of the musical group called, “The Saturday Night Club,” where he used to play piano.

“Baltimore Sage” played a vital role in the “Scopes Trial,” where he stood in support of science over superstition.

// Famous Editors

H. L. Mencken biography timelines

  • // 12th Sep 1880
    Henry Louis ‘H. L.’ Mencken was born to German-American parents - August Mencken, a cigar factory owner and Anna Abhau Mencken.
  • // 1896 To 1898
    From 1896 to 1898, he worked in his father’s cigar factory. He disliked the job and left the factory. The same year, he enrolled for a correspondence course in writing from the Cosmopolitan University.
  • // 1899
    In 1899, shortly after his father’s death, he handed over the family business to his uncle and started pursuing his career in writing.
  • // 1899
    He started his career with the ‘Baltimore Morning Herald’ in 1899 as its part-time reporter but soon rose to the position of editor.
  • // 1906 To 1915
    In 1906, the ‘Herald’ ran out of business and was bought by Charles H. Grasty who launched The Baltimore Sun in 1910, where Mencken worked as a managing editor from 1911 to 1915.
  • // 1914 To 1923
    Simultaneously, he started his career as a literary critic by editing satirical magazine like The Smart Set. He worked in the magazine from 1914-23.
  • // 1919 To 1948
    The American Language published in 1919 was his masterpiece, where he traced the history and evolution of American vernacular speech. The book gained him much popularity in the field of philology with republication in 1936 andprovided with Supplements in 1946 and 1948.
  • // 1919
    Prejudices, appearing in six volumes and published in 1919 were the collection of his critical writing.
  • // 1923
    In 1923, while he went to deliver a lecture in Baltimore, he met Sara Haardt, a professor of English at Goucher College and fell in love with her. She was eighteen years junior to him.
  • // 1924
    In 1924, he partnered with Jean Nathan, the famous American drama critic and editor, and founded the magazine, ‘The American Mercury’ that was published by Alfred A. Knopf. He worked in it as an editor.
  • // 1929 To 1939
    Mencken’s popularity fell down during the days of Great Depression, the economic downturn that lasted from 1929 to 1939 and due to his opposition against Franklin D. Roosevelt's “New Deal.”
  • // 1930
    Courtship between Sara and Mencken lasted for seven years and finally they got married in 1930.
  • // 1933
    The magazine was widely popular in America. In 1933, he resigned from The American Mercury.
  • // 1935
    Sara was ill with tuberculosis throughout their married life and in 1935, she succumbed to meningitis, leaving Mencken heavily grief-stricken.
  • // 1940 To 1943
    Happy Days (1940), Newspaper Days (1941), and Heathen Days (1943) are the three, autobiographical trilogy, where Mencken expressed his enchantment over his personal life.
  • // 1945 To 1948
    However, he was able to regain his popularity with the publication of the fourth edition of his book ‘The American Language’ in 1936 and its Supplements that followed in 1945 and 1948.
  • // 1948
    In 1948, he entered the political scene by focusing on the presidential election of Harry S. Truman.
  • // 1948
    In 1948, he suffered from stroke from which he never recovered.
  • // 1948
    In 1948, he suffered severe stroke that totally ruined his writing career.
  • // 29th Jan 1956
    On January 29, 1956, he died of heart attack while he was asleep.
  • // 1967
    His home at 1524, Hollins Street was donated to the University of Maryland, after the death of his youngest brother, August in 1967.
  • // 1983
    In 1983, the house was acquired by the city of Baltimore and now it is maintained as part of the City Life Museum that is kept open on special occasions..

// Famous Newspaper Columnists

H. L. Mencken's FAQ

  • What is H. L. Mencken birthday?

    H. L. Mencken was born at 1880-09-12

  • When was H. L. Mencken died?

    H. L. Mencken was died at 1956-01-29

  • Where was H. L. Mencken died?

    H. L. Mencken was died in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.

  • Which age was H. L. Mencken died?

    H. L. Mencken was died at age 75

  • Where is H. L. Mencken's birth place?

    H. L. Mencken was born in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.

  • What is H. L. Mencken nationalities?

    H. L. Mencken's nationalities is American

  • Who is H. L. Mencken spouses?

    H. L. Mencken's spouses is Sara Haardt

  • Who is H. L. Mencken siblings?

    H. L. Mencken's siblings is August Mencken Jr.

  • What was H. L. Mencken universities?

    H. L. Mencken studied at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

  • What is H. L. Mencken's religion?

    H. L. Mencken's religion is Atheist

  • Who is H. L. Mencken's father?

    H. L. Mencken's father is August Mencken Sr.

  • What is H. L. Mencken's sun sign?

    H. L. Mencken is Virgo