Famous ExPats – Ambrose Bierce

Ambrose Bierce, one of the most brilliant (and some say, twisted) satirists in American literature, is famed in fiction as “El Gringo”, an elderly curmudgeon who wandered into Pancho Villa’s territory in Northern Mexico and was never heard from again.  Most sources place his death in Mexico in 1914, but the truth is that no hard evidence places Bierce in Mexico.  It’s possible that he never got there at all.  Books and movies place him there and give fictional accounts of how his life ended, but fiction is all we have.

Bierce lived in England from 1871 to early 1875–his only known expat experience–and is reported to have loved it, returning grudgingly to San Francisco to join his wife and children.  His first three books wre written while he lived in England.  For more of his interesting personal history, see the website of the Ambrose Bierce Appreciation Society.  They also have an excellent list of the books, movies, and theatrical works that honor the memory of Bierce.

Just out of curiosity, I looked for copies of Bierce’s England-era books.  There is one copy of the first edition of “Nuggets and Dust” available at www.Alibris.com for $2,144.95.  “The Fiend’s Delight” first edition can be bought for only $575 at the website of the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America or for $1,500 (for a restored copy) at Biblio.com.  The same two sources offer “Cobwebs from an Empty Skull” for as little as $200. 

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