The Strange Mystery of Ambrose Bierce


Arts & Culture


On this day in 1843, the cynic, journalist, and satirist Ambrose Bierce was born in Ohio. It’s his death that’s in question; in 1913 the seventy-one-year-old writer disappeared without a trace (probably) somewhere in Mexico, while (possibly) traveling with Pancho Villa’s army. Nearly everything about Bierce’s final days is subject to speculation, rumor, and debate. While some claim he ended his final letter with “As to me, I leave here tomorrow for an unknown destination,” others debate the validity of the prophetic pronouncement. Some claim he was killed by firing squad; others, that he committed suicide; and still others, that he disappeared into another dimension. In any event, his continued existence seems unlikely, and his legend assured by the mystery. As he himself put it, “Death is a dignitary who when he comes announced is to be received with formal manifestations of respect, even by those most familiar with him.”